Derogatory Comments About Pregnant Workers

Legal Guidance for New York Employees Affected by Discrimination

Pregnancy can be a wonderful time in a woman's life, but it can also create some challenging situations in the workplace. Some employers make derogatory comments about pregnant workers. These comments can trigger adverse professional consequences and extreme psychological distress. An experienced employment discrimination attorney at Phillips & Associates can help you pursue damages for harm caused as a result of derogatory comments, harassment, and other adverse actions.

Some common derogatory comments associated with pregnancy may include complaining about the amount of weight you've gained during pregnancy, making negative comments about you for taking leave based on pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, or making negative comments about your need to breastfeed, stay off your feet, or take a lighter workload.

Take Action Against Derogatory Comments

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was amended with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in order to expressly prohibit pregnancy discrimination. Employers that have at least 15 employees are not allowed to discriminate against job applicants or employees on the basis of pregnancy or childbirth. This means employers cannot take any actions with regard to employment, such as demoting, transferring, or changing the pay of a worker, on the basis of her pregnancy. They also cannot harass the worker.

New York state and city laws offer protection to pregnant employees who work for smaller businesses. For example, the New York City Council enacted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which makes sure that pregnant workers are protected against discrimination so they can work through their pregnancies. The bill expands the city’s Human Rights Law, which applies to workplaces with four or more employees.

Derogatory comments in the workplace based on pregnancy, a pregnancy-related condition, or childbirth may be considered unlawful harassment. In order to be considered illegal, the harassing conduct must be so frequent or severe it creates a hostile work environment or causes an employer to make an adverse employment decision.

When a coworker, a supervisor, or a client or customer of an employer makes derogatory comments, you should ask the person to stop and state that this conduct is unwelcome. You should also use any complaint procedure, such as making a report to HR, that your employer has in place to address the situation. If your employer is large enough to be covered by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, you can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This claim must be filed within 180 days of the harassment. If your employer is smaller, you can exercise your rights under state and local laws.

Your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you for telling HR about the derogatory comments or filing a formal complaint with the EEOC, and your employer is not allowed to terminate you for these reasons. Sometimes, in more ambiguous cases, however, it may be appropriate to consult an employment discrimination attorney before filing the grievance in order to understand this area of law better. It is important to retain an attorney before filing a complaint.

Consult a New York Attorney for Your Employment Law Issues

You do not need to endure derogatory comments that constitute pregnancy discrimination or harassment in a New York workplace. The lawyers at Phillips & Associates are aggressive, experienced advocates for those who have been subject to derogatory comments and other forms of harassment. Contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form.