Just a few months ago, an ex-employee won a lawsuit against a Chipotle restaurant chain for pregnancy discrimination. The employee was denied adequate bathroom and water breaks and was not permitted to leave in time to make a doctor's appointment. She left for the prenatal appointment anyway, and was fired. While she eventually won over half a million dollars in the lawsuit, for a time she was both out of a job and expecting a child who would need that financial support.
Pregnant employees have rights in the workplace. Unfortunately, some employers and co-workers treat pregnant employees differently. In these cases, workers may feel harassed and discriminated against just because they are pregnant.
If you are in the market for entry level jobs and retail work, the season is favorable for job seekers. The monthly jobs report is coming and it is likely show that the economy is adding jobs at a steady, yet slow rate. This means that jobs are out there, but it is not a guarantee that every candidate will get hired for every job.
Readers may be aware that women are afforded certain protections in the workplace when they are pregnant. Under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, there are a variety of things pregnant women are protected from in the workplace, including discrimination in:
The U.S. Supreme Court has finally ruled on the UPS pregnancy discrimination case that we have discussed in previous blog posts. As our readers may remember, the case was filed after a pregnant UPS driver was advised by her physician to avoid lifting packages weighing above a certain limit. Rather than reasonably accommodate the physician’s request, UPS insisted that the pregnant woman take unpaid leave. UPS made this decision despite the fact that the company regularly accommodates workers who have other physical conditions which limit their abilities.
The law generally protects women against sex discrimination generally and against pregnancy discrimination specifically. Certain pregnancy discrimination laws extend to women who are breastfeeding or who are experiencing pregnancy-related challenges. Recently, the Affordable Care Act and various state laws have insisted that lactating women may not only be discriminated against due to their situation, they must generally be given a clean, safe, private space at work to pump breast milk other than a bathroom.
Working while you are pregnant can be a stressful process. You may find yourself to be more tired than usual and hungrier than usual. You may find yourself in need of more frequent restroom breaks. And you may generally just be uncomfortable while you are trying to do your work. Unfortunately, your physical discomforts are not the only realities you need to worry about during your pregnancy, at least from an employment law standpoint.
It is sometimes difficult to observe a systemic problem with any sort of clarity. We frequently write about the prevalence of discrimination within the American workplace. This problem is so varied and so widespread that it can be easy to speak about it in terms that either hyper-inflate or ultimately minimize the problem at hand.
A significant number of women suffer form some form of postpartum depression or anxiety after they give birth. As the body’s hormone levels surge and consequently strive to adjust to those surges, women can suffer from mood swings, uncharacteristic thought patterns and feeling truly blue. In fact, milder forms of postpartum depression are often referred to as “The Baby Blues.” Most women can successfully weather this milder form of depression for the few weeks that it tends to stick around.
We write frequently about the ways in which relatively subtle forms of illegal discrimination continue to permeate the American workplace. In addition to race discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination and sexual harassment, a staggering number of American workers continue to experience the negative effects of pregnancy discrimination. In response to this disturbing trend, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released guidance on this issue that is arguably long-overdue.