If you are pregnant and employed, you are protected by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. This law protects working women who become pregnant by prohibiting discrimination based on pregnancy. Despite this law, some employers still discriminate against pregnant workers. If you believe that you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination, the attorneys at Swartz Swidler might be able to help you.
It is important for you to understand your rights as a pregnant employee. Here are seven important things that you need to understand about workplace pregnancy discrimination.
1. PDA prohibits discrimination in all employment aspects
You are protected under the PDA in all aspects of employment, This includes hiring, promotions, firing, salary and other benefits. Your employer may not have policies that prevent women from doing certain jobs just because they are pregnant or capable of becoming pregnant. Policies that have a disparate impact on women because of pregnancy or fertility are also prohibited.
2. Covered workplaces
Employers who have 15 or more employees are covered by the PDA. If your workplace has fewer than 15 employees and is in New Jersey, your employer is also covered under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
3. Retaliation is prohibited
Retaliatory employment actions by employers against pregnant workers are also prohibited. If you are fired because you filed a complaint about pregnancy discrimination, you may have grounds to file a suit for retaliatory discharge as well as pregnancy discrimination.
It is illegal for employers to pass over workers for promotions simply because they are pregnant. This may constitute a violation of the PDA.
5. Pregnancy and maternity leave
If you need to take maternity or pregnancy leave, the PDA mandates that your job must be held open for you just as long as it would be held open for a worker who is on leave because of a disability or illness.
6. Disclosure is not required
You are not required to inform potential employers or your current employer about your pregnancy. Employers are forbidden from refusing to hire workers because they are pregnant as long as they are able to perform the functions of their jobs. They also cannot ask workers if they are pregnant or if they plan to get pregnant in the future.
7. Some organizations can treat pregnant, unmarried women differently
Courts have held that certain religious organizations or companies that work with young people may discriminate against workers who violate the standards against premarital sex. Employers who do this must also treat men who engage in premarital sex in similar fashions. At a majority of companies, pregnancy-related benefits may not be limited to only those employees who are married.
How to complain
If you believe that your rights have been violated under the PDA, you can file a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It is important for you to act quickly because the deadline for the complaint is normally within 180 days of the discriminatory act.
When you are preparing to file your charge, make certain to write down everything that happened, including the place, date and time of the incident. It is important to do this as soon as possible after it happens. Keep copies of your notes at your home.
If your company has a union representative, talk to him or her. You should also speak to your employer and check your employee handbook. Continue doing a good job at work and keep a record of it. Keep copies of all of your job evaluations along with any memos or letters that document your job performance.
While you are not required to have an attorney to file a discrimination charge, you might benefit from getting legal help. Contact Swartz Swidler to schedule your consultation today.