A few notes about pregnancy discrimination

by Michael Haberman on February 9, 2016 · 14 comments

Careful consideration is needed with pregnant employees if you are deciding based on their pregnancy and not performance.

Careful consideration is needed with pregnant employees if you are deciding based on their pregnancy and not performance.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed in 1978, yet despite the amount of time on the books employers violate it all the time. In 2014 pregnancy cases were 18.4% of all Title VII cases files. The awards in the past 5 years have been approximately $5 million. Judges and juries find pregnant women to be very sympathetic victims.

Types of cases

The variety of discrimination cases dealing with pregnancy cover a broad spectrum of reasons. These include:

  • refusing to hire, failing to promote, demoting, or firing pregnant workers after learning they are pregnant;
  • discharging workers who take medical leave for pregnancy-related conditions (such as a miscarriage);
  • limiting employment opportunities for pregnant women, such as by placing them on involuntary leave, refusing to let them continue working beyond a certain point in the pregnancy, reducing work hours, or limiting work assignments due to employer safety concerns;
  • requiring medical clearances not required of non-pregnant workers;
  • failing to accommodate pregnancy-related work restrictions where similar accommodations are or would be provided to non-pregnant workers;
  • refusing to allow lactating mothers to return to work; and
  • retaliating against employees – or those close to pregnant employees – who complained about pregnancy discrimination.

Two notable cases point out some of the more egregious reasons. In August 2015 a company refused to promote a woman because she had taken maternity leave and instead promoted a lesser qualified male. In 2012 a woman claimed that the bank she worked for had put her on a “mommy track” after she had returned from maternity leave, thus reducing her income potential and promotional opportunities.

Burden of proof

In PDA cases the burden of proof of discrimination falls on the pregnant employee. According to attorney Paul Lusky of Ford Harrison, this is not an easy burden, though sometimes it is made easier by managers making stupid statements. Direct evidence such as “an associate vice president [telling] the plaintiff that the healthcare provider had considered her for the open manager position but decided to promote a less experienced male employee instead because she ‘had been on maternity leave for a while’” makes a case easier to prove. Direct evidence is not always necessary.

Circumstantial evidence can also be used to prove the claim of discrimination. According to Lusky “Circumstantial evidence of discrimination includes ambiguous statements, suspicious timing, and instances in which similarly situated, non-pregnant employees received systematically better treatment.”

What is an employer to do?

The law requires that employers “ignore an employee’s pregnancy as far as is practically possible.” That does not mean you ignore the employee especially when job actions are required.

Another issue in dealing with pregnant employees is that complications arising from pregnancy may have to be considered under Americans  with Disabilities Act, thus making the situation all that much more difficult to deal with.

I will end with Lusky’s very good piece of advice:

Employers must train supervisors and managers on the proper way to respond to an employee’s announcement that she is pregnant and will need maternity leave. All personnel decisions that impact the employee on maternity leave, whether evaluations, bonus determinations or promotion decisions, should be reviewed with human resources and/or the company’s employment law attorney.

Sign up for free HR Solutions updates via email

Omega HR Solutions, Inc. uses creative human resource solutions to provide answers to time, money and service issues with employers and their employees. Visit our Products and Services page for more information or contact us to learn how we can help your organization.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Neurorise February 11, 2016 at 6:20 am

I do accept as true with all the ideas you’ve offered in your post.
They are really convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are very quick for newbies.

May you please lengthen them a little from subsequent time?
Thanks for the post.


bali web design company February 13, 2016 at 4:19 pm

This website was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something
that helped me. Thank you!


RexBurn Ingredients February 15, 2016 at 8:17 am

Great info. Lucky me I came across your website by accident (stumbleupon).
I’ve bookmarked it for later!


Angel fish Live March 2, 2016 at 5:42 pm

This iis a great tip especially to thos fresh to the blogosphere.
Brief bbut very accurate info… Appreciate yoir sharing this one.
A mst read article!


Paintball Perpignan March 4, 2016 at 2:42 am

I’m impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you’ve hit
the nail on the head. The problem is something that not enough folks are speaking intelligently about.
I am very happy I found this during my hunt for something
regarding this.


Cambridge Dental March 4, 2016 at 8:43 pm

Great post.


bebes renacidos March 7, 2016 at 10:52 pm

Great post! We are linking to this great content on our site.
Keep up the good writing.


flash April 13, 2016 at 8:45 am

Howdy I am so grateful I found your blog, I really found you by
mistake, while I was searching on Yahoo for something else, Nonetheless I am here
now and would just like to say cheers for a marvelous post and
a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at
the minute but I have book-marked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to
read a lot more, Please do keep up the great jo.


fucked May 9, 2016 at 8:07 am

Hello mates, how is all, and what you wish for
to say on the topic of this piece of writing, in my view its actually awesome in support of me.


fudge packer May 9, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Taking the time and actual
effort to generate a top notch article… but what can I say… I hesitate a lot and don’t manage
to get nearly anything done.


mieszkania reda May 31, 2016 at 8:41 am

At this time it seems like BlogEngine is the top blogging
platform out there right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?


Italy Food Vacation June 1, 2016 at 11:17 am

Yes! Finally something about usp.


hezhong56 June 29, 2016 at 7:45 am

I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here.The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish.nonetheless, you command get bought an nervousness over that you wish be delivering the following.unwell unquestionably come more formerly again since exactly the same nearly very often in


Jasmin December 21, 2018 at 11:05 pm

I used to be suggested this blog by means of my cousin. I’m not sure whether
or not this publish is written by means of him as no one else recognise such specific approximately my
problem. You are amazing! Thanks!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: