Can My Employer Fire Me For Becoming Pregnant?

Are you pregnant? Do you fear reporting your pregnancy to your employer because of retaliation concerns? Photo of firing

You should know that certain forms of pregnancy discrimination are illegal under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). Legally, employers are required to treat pregnant women the same as non-pregnant employees. The PDA dictates that if an employee is unable to perform her job due to pregnancy, an employer must treat her like any other temporarily disabled employee, providing her work that she can undertake.

Sadly, some women are not aware of their rights when it comes to pregnancy, and some fear that their employer will act irrationally and retaliate if they make the pregnancy known. Remember, in addition to PDA violations, if an employer retaliates or fires you because you are pregnant, you may be able to file a wrongful termination claim.

Keep in mind, if you work in a position that may become troublesome because of your pregnancy, your employer may have to provide you with modified tasks, alternative assignments or disability leave. Therefore, you should not fear letting your employer know about your condition.

Worker Allegedly Fired After Notifying Supervisor of Pregnancy

It is understandable why someone who is pregnant may want to stay quiet about her medical state at work. Recently, there have been many discrimination cases making headlines, as women appear to be fighting back against employers who have allegedly denied them basic rights.

One case generating national attention is that of Courtnee Dean, an Olive Garden employee for 10 years, who has filed a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against the restaurant’s parent company, Darden Restaurants, Inc. In her lawsuit, Dean, a Philadelphia native, claims that she was “disciplined without cause and then terminated without any notice or explanation” by her restaurant after she informed a supervisor that she was pregnant.

Additionally, it should be noted that the Supreme Court is currently taking up the case of a former UPS driver who said the company would not accommodate her pregnancy. This case could have major ripple effects on employment law—we plan to update our blog if a decision is made.

Pregnancy Discrimination: What Should I Look Out For?

Keep an eye out for issues at your workplace once you announce your pregnancy—pay attention to the tasks that you are being asked to perform, requests for leave and any insurance complications. Keep detailed notes of any interactions you may have with supervisors about your condition.

There are very complex legal arguments that need to be made in any pregnancy discrimination case, so seeking legal advice may be in your best interest if you are experiencing issues at work. Laws involving pregnancy claims are evolving, as these cases show, so what may have been true legally in the past may be changing.

Women who decide to become mothers should not have to fear discrimination at work. Make sure that you are educated when it comes to your rights.

Kesluk, Silverstein & JacobLos Angeles employment attorneys

Did You Know? An EEOC report in 2013 found that women in health care and social assistance positions filed the most pregnancy discrimination claims in the U.S.