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Fired For Being Pregnant in Pennsylvania

Women who are fired for being pregnant in Pennsylvania may have sufficient grounds to file wrongful termination claims against their employers. Both federal and state law protects pregnant workers. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler may advise you about the rights that you might have in a pregnancy discrimination claim.

The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act covers employers that have 15 or more employees. The covered employers are prohibited from discriminating against workers based on childbirth, pregnancy or related medical conditions. The act covers all aspects of employment, including hiring pregnant applicants or treating pregnant workers differently. Employers are not allowed to refuse to hire an applicant simply because she is pregnant. They may also not fire someone or discipline her for becoming pregnant.

Schedule an appointment today. Call (856) 685-7420 or

Schedule an appointment today.
Call (856) 685-7420 or

The Pennsylvania Human Rights Act

Similarly, the Human Rights Act is a Pennsylvania law that prohibits pregnancy discrimination and discrimination based on related medical conditions and childbirth. Both applicants and pregnant employees are protected from being treated differently than other workers who are temporarily disabled. Unlike the federal PDA, Pennsylvania’s law covers more employers and includes all that employ four or more people.

Reasonable accommodations

Under both laws, employers are not allowed to single out workers who are pregnant for treatment that is worse than how other temporarily disabled employees are treated. For instance, if an employer routinely offers light duty to workers who are injured, it will likely have to do the same for its pregnant workers who need light duty. Employers do not have to treat pregnant workers better than they do other workers, however. Philadelphia is one exception because it mandates that pregnant workers are provided with accommodations even if others are not given accommodations.

Under the PDA, employers must reasonably accommodate workers who have pregnancy-related disabilities. These may include preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, for example. If you have one of these conditions, you may be considered to have a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The employment law attorneys at Swartz Swidler may advise you on whether or not you have a temporary disability that qualifies you for protection under the ADA.

Leave

Some pregnant employees are also entitled to take leave from work for certain medical reasons during pregnancy and following childbirth. If you work for a company that has at least 50 employees, your employer is covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. This law offers eligible employees the ability to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off from work for medical and caretaking needs for:

  • Prenatal appointments
  • Health reasons making you unable to work during pregnancy
  • Serious health problems that arise from childbirth and pregnancy
  • Time to bond with your new child

In order to be eligible to take the unpaid leave under the FMLA, you must have worked for your employer for at least one year for a certain number of hours. The FMLA also gives you the right to reinstatement to your former job when your leave ends as well as to continue your health benefits during your leave.

What to do if your employer fired you for being pregnant

If you have been fired because of your pregnancy, you may have the legal basis to file a wrongful termination claim against your employer. There are several steps that you must take if you believe that your termination was because of your pregnancy.

Filing a pregnancy discrimination charge

Before you can file a lawsuit in court for pregnancy discrimination, you will first be required to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal employment Opportunity Commission or the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission. These two agencies have an agreement by which filing a charge with one counts as filing it with the other. This agreement preserves your right to later sue in federal court, state court or both. It is important for you to act quickly because you may have as little as 180 days to file your charge after the discrimination against you occurred.

Once you have filed your charge, the PHRC or the EEOC may investigate what happened. They may work to negotiate a settlement on your behalf with your employer or suggest mediation. If you would instead prefer to immediately file a lawsuit, you can request that the administrative agency issues you a right-to-sue letter. If you plan to sue your employer in federal court, you will only have 90 days to file your complaint after you receive your right-to-sue letter. Once you receive it, it is important that you schedule your appointment with Swartz Swidler as soon as possible. If you plan to file a lawsuit in state court, you will have up to two years to file a discrimination lawsuit. Violations of the FMLA allow you to file a lawsuit without first going through the administrative agency.

Potential damages for pregnancy discrimination claims

If your lawsuit is successful, you may ask to be reinstated to your former job. Because of the hostility that may have built up, most people do not opt to request to be reinstated and instead ask for monetary damages to compensate them. These monetary damages may include the following:

  • Back pay and lost benefits
  • Out-of-pocket expenses that were caused by being
  • wrongfully terminated
  • Front pay
  • Court costs and attorney fees
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages for intentional or egregious cases

Federal law does not have a cap on the amounts of damages you might recover, but Pennsylvania does. The maximum amount you might receive will range from $50,000 to $300,000 for state claims, depending on your employer’s size. Pennsylvania law also does not allow an award of punitive damages. One exception to the damages cap in the state is that Pennsylvania does not cap damages for emotional harms and out-of-pocket losses.

Contact an experienced employment attorney

If you have been fired for being pregnant in Pennsylvania and are thinking about filing a charge against your former employer, it is important that you speak to an experienced attorney at Swartz Swidler. We may advise you to determine whether or not you have a winnable case, how much your case may be worth and how you may assert your rights. Our attorneys may work to negotiate a settlement, attend mediation and interviews or fight for you in court. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

Most Frequently Asked Question: Do I Have A Case?

While it is true that every case is different, The law is pretty clear in most cases. The best way to determine if you have a case is to contact one of our attorneys. For more information check out the FAQ below or visit our FAQ Page

Most Frequently Asked Question:
Do I Have A Case?

While it is true that every case is different, The law is pretty clear in most cases. The best way to determine if you have a case is contact one of our attorneys. For more information on a just a few scenarios checkout the flip box FAQ below or visit our FAQ Page.

Our Locations

Cherry Hill Headquarters

1101 Kings Hwy N
Suite 402
Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08034

Phone: (856) 685-7420
Fax: (856) 685-7417

Philadelphia Satellite Office

123 South 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Phone: (215) 995-2733

Our Locations

Cherry Hill Headquarters

1101 Kings Hwy N
Suite 402
Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08034

Phone: (856) 685-7420
Fax: (856) 685-7417

Philadelphia Satellite Office

123 South 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Phone: (215) 995-2733