Hostile Work Environment Based on Pregnancy

New York Hostile Work Environment Attorneys

When a woman becomes pregnant there are many things she will be looking forward to, but discrimination at work should not be one of them. It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against or harass a woman because of her gender. A hostile working environment based on pregnancy is one form of prohibited gender harassment. If you believe that you are experiencing a hostile work environment because of your pregnancy, the New York pregnancy discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates can help you protect your rights.

How to Recognize a Hostile Work Environment

Comments, jokes, and inappropriate questions are just a few examples of behaviors that may create a hostile work environment. In fact, any action that makes a work environment hostile, offensive, or intimidating to a reasonable person is prohibited. It does not matter whether the perpetrator is a coworker, a manager, or a third-party who is on site. Some statements that could lead to a hostile work environment are:

  • Asking when you became pregnant;
  • Questions about your birth control;
  • Inappropriate comments about your body;
  • Asking whether you are going to keep the baby; or
  • Jokes about pregnancy.

These are just examples. Any comments, whether conveyed verbally or some other way, like in an email, that make you feel uncomfortable may be a sign that you are working in a hostile environment.

Most laws require that the harassment at issue be either pervasive or severe in order to create a hostile work environment. In other words, a single instance of harassment may not rise to the level of a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment. However, a single extreme act of harassment or repeated lesser acts may qualify.

U.S. and New York Laws Protect the Rights of Pregnant Women at Work

There are federal, state, and local laws that prohibit discrimination or harassment based on gender. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the Act) is a federal law that protects workers from gender discrimination, which includes discrimination based on pregnancy. Any statements that create a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment are not allowed under the Act. Further, any actions that interfere with the woman’s ability to do her job are also prohibited. The Act applies to employers who have at least 15 employees.

New York State and City also have also passed laws that ban harassment based on gender, as well as hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environments. These laws can apply to employers with as few as four employees. If you are not sure whether your employer is subject to these laws, consult an experienced employment attorney.

If a woman makes a successful hostile work environment claim under the federal, state, or local laws, she may be entitled to compensatory damages and, in some cases, punitive damages.

Talk to an Experienced Hostile Work Environment Attorney

You do not have to put up with a hostile work environment based on pregnancy. Even if you are no longer pregnant, you may still enforce your rights. If you believe that your rights have been violated, fill out our online form or call (212) 248-7431 to speak with a New York employment discrimination lawyer at Phillips & Associates.