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Can a Job Deny You If You’re Pregnant?

Can You Be Denied a Job if You’re Pregnant in New York City?

You cannot be denied a job because you’re pregnant. A prospective employer should judge you on your work credentials and performance, not your pregnancy or an associated pregnancy medical condition. Pregnancy is a protected trait. It is unlawful under federal, state, and local city laws for a company not to hire you because you are pregnant. However, each of these laws provides slightly different protections. State and local laws typically afford the most expansive protection, but each case is of course unique. You may be able to sue for damages if you are denied a job because of your pregnancy. However, it can be challenging to know whether your pregnancy was the reason a company denied you a job. This where we come in. At Phillips & Associates, our seasoned New York City pregnancy discrimination attorneys may be able to represent you if you were denied a job due to your pregnancy or related health condition.

We have years of experience pursuing claims on behalf of pregnant women and mothers. We will examine your situation closely to determine whether we are able to help with the legal issues relating to being denied a job. We provide free consultations. You should call us if you believe you might have a case. 

Denial of a Job Because You’re Pregnant

If you can do the job and you are as qualified as other candidates, an employer shouldn’t deny you a job just because you are pregnant or have developed a pregnancy-related medical condition. Your employer shouldn’t act on biases it may have against pregnant workers, their capabilities, or their career ambitions. A prospective employer should not ask you at a job interview if you’re pregnant or plan to have kids in the near future. However, there are times when you may not be able to hide your pregnancy at an interview, or you may wish to disclose your pregnancy up front. While you should only disclose when you are ready, if a prospective employer does not know that you are pregnant, at the time the employer decides not to hire you, there are no grounds for a pregnancy - failure to hire - discrimination claim.

Additionally, most prospective employers won’t admit they didn’t hire a worker because she was pregnant. Our lawyers will need to prove it’s more likely than not that your prospective employer decided not to hire you due to your pregnancy. This is done through gathering direct or, more likely circumstantial, evidence to prove discrimination. Often however, employers usually argue you just weren’t qualified for the job or that there was some other reason not to hire you. Your claim could quickly run aground if your employer has a plausible explanation for why it did not hire you, and it hired someone else who was equally or more qualified and experienced.

Unlike discrimination claims involving your existing employer, you may not have access to information about other people’s qualifications or employment background and experience. This lack of access can make recovering compensation more of a challenge than it would be in a case involving long-term employment at a particular job.

The difficulty of establishing this type of pregnancy discrimination claim is why it is so important to consult our experienced lawyers as soon as possible after you are denied a job due to your pregnancy. You have a limited time within which to sue for damages. When you’re filing a lawsuit under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, you’ll need to first file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within a narrow time frame. The federal law applies only to those workplaces that have at least 15 employees. 

The New York State Human Rights Law also prohibits a company from denying you a job if you’re pregnant. It applies to every workplace in the state. Under this law, failure to hire based on your pregnancy would be actionable discrimination. Courts interpret this law in a more inclusive fashion than the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. However, it can still be challenging to establish your employer’s motives for denying you the job. Our lawyers will examine whether your company or job placement agency couched its discriminatory motives in subtle language. You may have a claim if, for example:

  • You are in your third trimester, and showing, and a job placement agency says you’re qualified but that employers won’t want an employee who is starting a family and won’t submit your resume until “your kids are older.”
  • A prospective employer asks you how many children you have and whether you plan to have another child. When you mention you’re pregnant, the prospective employer tells you to apply again once you’re ready to commit to a career.

Similarly, you may be able to sue under the New York City Human Rights Law if you are denied a job due to pregnancy. This law applies to workplaces that have at least 4 employees. It is widely considered one of the most protective antidiscrimination laws. It might be the most robust law under which we can pursue your claim if you were denied a job because of your pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition.

You Shouldn’t Be Denied a Job Because You Might Need a Reasonable Accommodations

In New York, pregnant workers in workplaces of any size across the state are explicitly allowed reasonable accommodations for any pregnancy-related condition, even if only at the interview or hiring stages. Potential future reasonable accommodations for your pregnancy-related condition could include: 

  • Modified work schedule
  • Leave for medical needs
  • Light duty
  • Rest or water breaks
  • Transfers away from hazardous tasks.

You should not be denied a job because you might need reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy-related condition. For example, a prospective employer should not deny you a job for which you are the most qualified simply because you noted you might need to go to medical appointments during your pregnancy.

Hire Our Firm For a Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

If you’re wondering whether you can be denied a job because you are pregnant, you’re not alone. Although laws prohibit pregnancy discrimination, some employers continue to make adverse employment decisions based on their unfair assumptions about a pregnant worker’s ability to do a particular job. While they may not admit it, circumstances may allow the jury or judge to infer discrimination. If you were denied a job in New York City, and you suspect it was because of your pregnancy, you should call our seasoned employment discrimination attorneys. Phillips & Associates is a plaintiff’s firm fighting for pregnant workers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Nassau County, or Suffolk County. Call us at (833) 529-3476 or complete our online form for a free consultation.

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