Pregnancy Discrimination and the EEOC
Legal Guidance for Employees in New York City
Pregnancy is one of the most exciting and memorable experiences in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, many employers view pregnancy as a negative and an impediment to their businesses. Some employers penalize pregnant women by providing them with less work, cutting their pay, or firing them altogether. While some of these incidences of pregnancy discrimination are overt, others are subtler. In order to combat pregnancy discrimination, the federal government established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to enforce federal laws providing protection to pregnant woman against discrimination. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City attorneys have years of experience filing claims with the EEOC and interpreting its regulations with regard to pregnancy discrimination.
The Role of the EEOC in Protecting Pregnant Workers
One of the EEOC’s main responsibilities is enforcing federal laws that prohibit discrimination against applicants based on pregnancy. According to the EEOC, “Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.” One of the primary federal statutes that the EEOC administers is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which “forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it come to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.” Although some incidences of discrimination are overt, others are subtler in nature, requiring thorough investigation and the gathering of circumstantial evidence.
The EEOC also deals with situations in which a pregnant woman is unable to maintain her existing job duties due to her pregnancy. For example, jobs that require lifting heavy loads, climbing ladders, or being around certain chemicals may pose risks to the baby and the mother. When this occurs, an employer must treat the pregnant employee the same way that it would treat any other disabled employee. This may include assigning light duty and providing alternative work assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave, assuming the employer provides these options to disabled employees.
In addition to discrimination, the EEOC also governs situations in which a pregnant woman is subject to harassment. According to the EEOC, pregnancy-related harassment occurs when the conduct or statements are so frequent or severe that it creates an offensive or hostile work environment, or when it results in some negative action being taken regarding the victim’s employment, like a pay cut or termination. The harasser does not always have to be the victim’s employer, and he or she can also be an agent of the employer, a client, a customer, or a co-worker. The EEOC will issue a Right to Sue letter upon completion of its investigation. If you have received a Right to Sue letter you have 90 days to file your federal lawsuit.
Pregnancy Discrimination Attorneys Serving New York City Residents
If you or someone you know has been mistreated in a New York City workplace due to expecting a child, the pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates can help. State and federal laws provide future and new mothers with many protections, including the right to take a specified amount of time off before and after birth. We have helped many pregnant women and new mothers assert their rights and are prepared to guide you through every step of the process. We offer a free consultation and do not collect any fees unless we obtain a settlement or a judgment in your favor. You can call us at (866) 229-9441 or contact us online to set up an appointment. Our clients come from throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens.
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