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Is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act a Federal Law?

Is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act a Federal Law?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is a federal law that amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibits pregnancy discrimination in workplaces that have at least 15 employees. Often, pregnancy and childbirth are happy occasions. Unfortunately, companies are not required to have a healthy work-life balance for their pregnant employees. Supervisors and managers sometimes treat pregnant employees differently than they treat others. They may hold outdated, stereotypical ideas of what pregnant women can accomplish or their career ambitions. If your employer mistreated you due to your pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition, the seasoned New York City pregnancy discrimination lawyers of Phillips & Associates may be able to represent you in a lawsuit for damages. 

Because the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is a federal law, we would need to first file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within a narrow window of time before filing a lawsuit in court. In the event that the EEOC declines to pursue your case, you should not assume you don’t have a claim. Many valid claims are denied because the EEOC cannot pursue an investigation as thoroughly as an experienced employment discrimination law firm like ours can. We leave no stone unturned in our investigation and discovery. We take every deposition and pursue every lead with the goal of gathering evidence that will allow us to establish your right to damages.

Pregnancy Discrimination in New York City

Our attorneys might be able to prove pregnancy discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act if you were treated differently by an employer, or prospective employer, due to your pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Discrimination may occur in connection with any adverse employment action taken because of your pregnancy or childbirth, including decisions related to:

  • Hiring
  • Training
  • Pay
  • Benefits like Health Insurance, Vacation Time or Leave
  • Firing
  • Job Assignments
  • Promotions
  • Layoffs
  • Harassment.

You may have a claim for pregnancy discrimination under federal law if:

  • You were offered less training and mentorship opportunities for your job than other employees who were not pregnant because your manager assumed you wouldn’t be around long due to your pregnancy.
  • You were told you were the best candidate in a phone interview, but when you interviewed in person, you were visibly pregnant, and the hiring manager’s approach to you changed so that you didn’t get the job.
  • You are up for a scheduled promotion but denied the promotion because your boss thinks you’re too focused on building your family.
  • You were fired because you went into labor during a client meeting.

Reasonable Accommodations under Federal Law

You may be able to get a reasonable accommodation under federal law if you’re temporarily unable to do your job because you have a pregnancy or childbirth-related medical condition. In terms of providing an accommodation under federal law, your employer should treat you as it treats other temporarily disabled employees, such as those with pneumonia or a broken leg. However, there is no independent obligation to accommodate your pregnancy under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. State and local laws provide more protection in this regard.

Reasonable accommodations are any adjustments or changes to the workplace that would allow you to do your job. They could include:

  • Light Duty
  • Alternative Assignments
  • Shift changes
  • Disability Leave

You might have a claim for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation if:

  • You were terminated from your job as a bank teller because you developed painful pubic symphysis syndrome during pregnancy and asked to sit rather than stand while working in the teller’s window. Your coworker at the bank received this accommodation for a broken leg.
  • You were denied a reasonable accommodation you needed in the form of additional rest breaks in order to take insulin for gestational diabetes when it would have caused your employer no undue hardship to provide it. Your male coworker with Type 1 diabetes was afforded these additional rest breaks.

In addition, our lawyers will examine whether you are eligible for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). You may qualify if you have a significant impairment due to pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, which may require a long period of bed rest. The EEOC also enforces the ADA. Also, if you have an employer with at least 50 employees and you are eligible, you may be able to pursue additional rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), such as unpaid job-protected leave.

Pregnancy Harassment

It is illegal for your employer to harass you due to your pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition. Under federal law, pregnancy harassment is unlawful if it is so severe or so frequent it generates a hostile work environment. It is also illegal if it results in an adverse employment decision such as failure to promote or termination. 

Under federal law, harassment may be committed by your co-workers, supervisor, a supervisor in a different department, a client, or a customer. You may have a pregnancy harassment claim if:

  • Your supervisor makes frequent derogatory comments about your pregnancy, such that the workplace is abusive or intimidating.
  • The CEO repeatedly calls you a “fat cow” because you’re pregnant.
  • Your coworker assaults you because you receive an accommodation for your pregnancy.
  • Your coworkers repeatedly make fun of your body and play jokes on you because you’re in the third trimester and showing.

Filing a Pregnancy Discrimination Charge with the Federal EEOC

You can cross-file your charge under the New York State Human Rights Law or New York City Human Rights Law, both of which tend to provide broader protection to more employees than federal law. However, it’s wise to call us as soon as you suspect you may be facing discrimination due to pregnancy. Our lawyers carefully examine all claims involving pregnancy discrimination to determine which law would give the greatest protection given the specific facts of your case. The state law covers every employee in the state. It has an inclusive definition of hostile work environment harassment that could make it more favorable than federal law. The city law applies to those employers in the 5 boroughs, with at least four employees, and has a long history of judicial case law interpreting its provisions in ways that tend to help pregnant workers. 

Hire Our Legal Team For Your Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

If you’re wondering whether the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is a federal law covering you in your New York City workplace, you should call our experienced and aggressive law firm. Phillips & Associates is a plaintiff’s firm that battles employment discrimination on behalf of pregnant workers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Nassau County, or Suffolk County. Our lawyers are well-respected and have numerous past successes. Call us at (833) 529-3476 or complete our online form for a free consultation. 

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"Phillips & Associates did a wonderful job. I would recommend Brittany Stevens." Angel
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"Hands down the best law firm for labor disputes in NYC. Being in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years I can say that this law firm is the number one choice for workers in the restaurant business that need to sue their company for wrongful termination. A special compliment to my lawyer Brittany Stevens. An amazing person and well prepared experienced lawyer. She was professional and empathetic to my case and worked in a time appropriate manner. She never miss a phone call at any hour of the day. Brittany and her team helped me with what I needed, when I needed it. I want to thank them all (especially Brittany), for a job well done." Massimo
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"Jesse Weinstein handled my discrimination case. He was extremely patient and understanding throughout the process and remained professional and consistent even when I could not. I really felt like he had my back and I didn't have to worry. His expertise, combined with the experience of the Firm, resulted in the best possible outcome of my case. Although I wouldn't wish what I went through on anyone, things do and always will happen and I would highly recommend Jesse and this Firm to anyone facing discrimination or other workplace issues." Karen
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