We have substantial experience with pregnancy discrimination claims and advising on maternity leave laws. There is no one law that governs pregnancy discrimination claims and maternity leave. Instead, there are numerous federal, state laws, and local laws.
The federal primary law that protects pregnant women is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA”), which is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under certain circumstances, the Family Medical and Leave Act (“FMLA”) and Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) also provide legal protections relating to pregnancy and maternity leave.
Below is: (i) an overview of the PDA, FMLA, and ADA as they relate to pregnancy and maternity leave; (ii) an overview of our credentials; and (iii) frequently asked questions relating to pregnancy discrimination and maternity leave laws.
THE PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION ACT
The PDA prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The PDA also prohibits workplace discrimination against an employee for having or contemplating an abortion or choosing not to have an abortion. Under the PDA, employers are required to provide adequate accommodations to expectant mothers when reasonable. Employers also may not use pregnancy as a reason to change the health benefits or other job benefits of employees who become pregnant.
While workplace pregnancy-related discrimination has been unlawful for over 40 years, such discrimination is still rampant. For example, in 2021, the EEOC received over 2,260 individual complaints concerning workplace pregnancy discrimination. Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy is considered a form of sex discrimination and, in some instances, can constitute a hostile work environment.
THE FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT
Under the FMLA, a mother can use 12 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth of a child, for prenatal care and incapacity related to pregnancy, and for her own serious health conditions following the birth of a child. A father can use FMLA leave for the birth of a child and to care for his spouse who is incapacitated due to pregnancy or childbirth.
Not all private sector employers are required to comply with the FMLA. The FMLA only applies to private sector employers who have 50 or more employees. Additionally, the FMLA only applies to “covered employees,” which are those who:
- Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months;
- Have at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave; and
- Works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
The ADA requires reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. While pregnancy itself is not considered a disability under the ADA, many pregnancy-related medical conditions are considered disabilities because they can substantially limit a major life activity. Some examples could include abnormal bleeding, back problems, migraines, swelling in the legs and feet, trouble breathing, gastric reflux, severe nausea and vomiting, and depression.
In addition to the above federal laws – the PDA, FMLA, and ADA – there are also numerous state and local laws that may provide additional legal protections.
Below is information about Premier Litigator’s pregnancy discrimination attorneys, examples of cases we’ve handled, and FAQs about pregnancy discrimination and related workplace claims. If you’d like to speak with one of our employment law attorneys, contact us at 1-877-858-6868 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OUR LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT LAW CREDENTIALS
At Premier Litigators, we are leaders in the field of employment law. Our employment lawyers are well-versed in pregnancy discrimination laws and maternity leave laws. We know it can be hard to choose a law firm. While many law firms and attorneys claim to be the “best” or “top” at employment law, we have credentials that truly set us apart. As just a few examples, all or most of our employment attorneys are:
- “AV” Rated by Martindale Hubbell (a peer-reviewed rating)
- Selected by the Super Lawyers publication as either “Super Lawyers” or “Rising Stars”
- Selected for “Best Lawyers” status by the Best Lawyers publication (obtained by less than 6% of the practicing attorneys nationwide)
- Selected to the “Legal Elite” by one or more peer-reviewed publications.
In addition to those accolades, our employment lawyers have credentials matched by few attorneys, including attending prestigious law schools, graduating at the top of their law school class, and clerking for U.S. Federal Courts.
Our employment lawyers regularly give training seminars to companies, HR professionals, and other attorneys on various cutting-edge employment law issues, including discrimination law.
The value of your claim may be directly impacted by the quality of your attorney as viewed by the opposing attorney and/or an insurance carrier. When a lawsuit is filed, few firms have employment attorneys as qualified as ours to obtain top value for pregnancy discrimination or maternity leave-related claims.
WHAT WE HANDLE
Our employment lawyers have represented hundreds of clients on issues relating to maternity leave, including pregnancy discrimination. Our experience ranges from counseling businesses on maternity leave law and pregnancy discrimination law compliance issues and best practices, to litigating through trial (and winning). Here are just a few examples of our successes in court relating to discrimination claims and maternity leave laws:
- Won a jury trial in federal court involving a woman who was terminated when she returned from paternity leave.
- Obtained several high six-figure settlements in single-plaintiff lawsuits asserting unlawful discrimination.
- Won a judgment in federal court involving an employee who was terminated after requesting additional leave for medical conditions.
- Obtained a very large settlement in a single-plaintiff disability case against a hospital where the employee was terminated because she missed work while receiving cancer treatment.
- Successfully settled over a dozen lawsuits involving claims of violating the FMLA and state-specific pregnancy and leave laws, representing both companies and individuals.
In addition to our pregnancy discrimination practice, our labor and employment law lawyers handle the following types of employment matters:
- Breach of Contract
- Commissions & Bonuses
- Discrimination, Harassment & Retaliation
- Employment Counseling & Litigation
- Equal Pay Act
- Executive Compensation
- Family and Medical Leave Act
- Hostile Work Environment
- Non-Competes & Employee Mobility
- Partnership Disputes & Business Divorces
- Race Discrimination
- Securities & FINRA
- Sexual Harassment
- Wage & Hour
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do you know whether you were subject to pregnancy discrimination at work? The first step is learning about the law and speaking with an employment attorney. The primary federal law that prohibits pregnancy discrimination is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA”), which is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Under the PDA, it is unlawful to discriminate against an individual (applicant or employee) in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, training, fringe benefits (such as leave and health insurance), or any other terms or conditions of employment. Examples of pregnancy discrimination can include:
- Firing or discriminating against a pregnant employee.
- Refusing to hire a pregnant applicant.
- Refusing to hire someone because they have just given birth.
- Harassing someone because they are pregnant.
- Demoting an employee after a pregnancy-related leave.
- Forcing a pregnant employee to change job positions. It doesn’t matter if the employer believes they are acting in the employee’s best interest.
- Discriminating against an employee because of her breastfeeding schedule.
- Preventing an employee who is pregnant or may become pregnant from working in certain jobs because the job may be harmful to the woman during her pregnancy.
Pregnant workers are protected from discrimination under the PDA based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, potential pregnancy, and even for having or not having an abortion. For more information about the PDA, see the EEOC’s guidance here.
If you believe you have been subject to pregnancy discrimination, contact us. We are a law firm that specializes in pregnancy discrimination cases. Call us at 1-877-858-6868 or email us at email@example.com.
Yes. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, protects women from being fired for having an abortion, contemplating having an abortion, or choosing not to have an abortion. For example, it would be unlawful for a manager or business owner to pressure an employee to have an abortion, or not to have an abortion, in order to retain her job, get better assignments, or stay on a path for advancement.
Several federal court cases demonstrate and confirm women may not be discriminated against in the workplace, even as one motivating factor, for having or contemplating an abortion or choosing not to have an abortion. See Doe v. C.A.R.S. Protection Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 358, 364 (3d Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 129 S. Ct. 576 (2008) holding employee demonstrated violation of the PDA by providing evidence that she was terminated for failing to call the office every day while out, that other employees were not required to call every day, that supervisor’s remark that employee “did not want to take responsibility” may have been referring to her decision to have an abortion of her severely deformed baby, and that her termination followed her abortion by three days.); See also Turic v. Holland Hospitality, Inc., 85 F.3d 1211, 1214 (6th Cir. 1996) (holding it was unlawful under the PDA to fire a pregnant employee because, in part, she contemplated having an abortion).
Not all employers are required to provide maternity leave. An employer’s obligation to provide maternity leave depends on whether they are subject to the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and any state or local laws.
The FMLA applies to all public agencies, including state, local, and federal employers, local education agencies (schools), and private-sector employers who employed 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including joint employers and successors of covered employers.
Under the FMLA, eligible employees are entitled to twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for, among other events: (i) the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth; and (ii) the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement.
An “eligible employee” is one who has: (i) worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave (ii) worked at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles; and (iii) worked for the employer for at least 12 months. The last requirement may be satisfied either by consecutive 12-month employment or, with a few exemptions, non-consecutive months over a seven year period.
While The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, pregnancy itself is not considered a “disability” under the ADA. That is reiterated by the EEOC and even highlighted by SHRM. Many pregnancy-related health issues, including those related to normal pregnancies, may be considered a disability under the ADA and entitle a female employee to reasonable accommodations.
To be considered disabled under the ADA, the employee must have a physical condition or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Examples related to pregnancy may include pregnancy-related:
- Disorders of the uterus or cervix
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Swelling, especially in the legs
- Gestational diabetes
- Nausea that causes dehydration
- Pelvic inflammation
- Symphysis pubic dysfunction
- High-risk health concerns
For more information about the ADA and pregnancy accommodations, see the comprehensive EEOC guidance issued in 10215.
You can also contact us at 1-877-858-6868 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA”), which is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1974, there are three primary forms of damages available – lost wages, compensatory damages, and punitive damages.
The first category of damages is lost wages. There are two categories of lost wages:
- Back pay. Back pay includes lost wages and lost benefits, from the time of termination through the end of trial. Lost benefits can include annual leave, sick leave, health insurance, and retirement contributions.
- Front pay. Front pay includes lost wages and lost benefits from the time of trial onward.
The second category of damages is compensatory damages. These damages are often referred to as “pain and suffering” damages. The EEOC considers the following items for pain and suffering damages:
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of health
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Injury to professional standing
- Injury to character or reputation
- Injury to credit standing
- Loss of self-esteem
- Marital strain
- Loss of respect of one’s friends and family
Different people, including different juries, will assign different values to each of those categories. It takes a skilled employment law attorney to maximize the value a jury assigns to each category.
The third category of damages is punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded to punish bad behavior. However, punitive damages are capped under Title VII (the federal anti-discrimination law, which includes the PDA), but are uncapped under many state laws.