In 2020, one might think that pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is nothing more than a distant memory from years gone by. But this and other forms of gender-based employment discrimination remain shockingly prevalent. A New York City pregnancy discrimination lawyer knows and understands how impactful this discrimination is on a woman’s work and home life.
If an employer or potential employer treats a woman unfavorably based on her pregnancy, childbirth, or maternity leave, she may be entitled to compensation for any resulting damages. Pregnancy discrimination applies to medical complications related to the pregnancy, both before and after the baby’s birth.
At Joseph & Norinsberg LLC, our highly-skilled team of NYC pregnancy discrimination attorneys has been protecting the rights of New York and New Jersey workers for more than 20 years. We have an exceptional track record of winning workplace discrimination cases and obtaining substantial settlements for our clients.
Any type of workplace discrimination is unacceptable, but when you are carrying a child or caring for a newborn, high levels of stress can impact the health of both mother and baby, taking an emotional and financial toll on the entire family. Contact a New York City pregnancy discrimination lawyer today if you have been a victim of pregnancy discrimination in your workplace.
If You Feel You Have Been Exposed to Illegal Pregnancy Discrimination in a New York City Workplace, You Are Not Alone
Although reports of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace have declined steadily over the past decade, the disturbing reality is that this type of discrimination still occurs with shocking frequency. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there were 2,753 reported cases of pregnancy discrimination in 2019 alone. And over the past decade, there have been over 50,000 claims of employment discrimination related to pregnancy and childbirth.
A recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), revealed that pregnancy discrimination isn’t only harmful to the mother’s ability to earn an income. In fact, the APA found that this type of discrimination is linked to increased levels of postpartum depression, as well as lower gestational ages and birth weights. In addition to financial ramifications, pregnancy discrimination can negatively impact the health and well-being of both mother and baby.
Employee Rights and Protection Against Workplace Pregnancy Discrimination
According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), any type of pregnancy-based employment discrimination is forbidden. This includes hiring, firing/layoffs, promotions, pay, training, and benefits, such as health insurance or paid-time off. For the purpose of employment, pregnancy must be treated as a disability if a worker is temporarily unable to perform job duties due to a pregnancy or childbirth-related medical condition. The employer must use the same protocols it applies to other employee disabilities, including providing light duty alternatives, or paid/unpaid leave.
Furthermore, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offer additional protections to most pregnant workers. FMLA requires employers with at least 50 employees to provide 12 weeks of leave to pregnant employees who are unable to work due to pregnancy-related complications, and the ADA requires employers with at least 15 employees to provide reasonable accommodations to workers who are suffering from pregnancy-related disabilities. These accommodations can include everything from lighter-duty tasks to an additional leave of absence. If you have questions about which rights and protections you are entitled to while being pregnant at work, it’s best to speak with a New York City pregnancy discrimination lawyer.
Past Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination at Work
In a stunning lawsuit filed back in 2014, a former Senior Vice President for New York Mets ticket sales has alleged that she was fired by the team because she became pregnant. According to the lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Leigh Castergine has accused team co-owner Michael Wilpon of firing her because Wilpon opposed Castergine’s pregnancy out of marriage.
According to Castergine, Wilpon told her that he is “old fashioned and thinks [Castergine] should be married before having a baby,” and told Castergine to tell her boyfriend that she will get a raise and a bonus when she “gets a ring.” Further, Wilpon allegedly stated in a meeting that he is “as opposed to putting an e-cigarette sign in my ballpark as I am to [Castergine] having this baby without being married.” Further, Castergine alleges that Wilpon told her she would be more respected if she were married.
Importantly, a week before announcing she was pregnant, Castergine was promoted to Senior Vice President for Ticket Sales and service. According to Castergine, she was advised to quit her job by Human Resources, and when she refused was told she was being terminated on August 20, 2014, because she failed to meet her sales goal, which Castergine disputes.
Pregnancy Discrimination Still Exists
Although the notion of women being fired from their jobs for becoming pregnant seems antiquated to most, the fact remains that situations like the New York Mets are facing are very common across all industries. There are simply too many “old fashioned” male executives populating high-level positions in corporate America. Nevertheless, that fact does not excuse conduct like that discussed above, and does not make it any less illegal.
Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination that is prohibited under New York and federal law. Simply stated, if you were fired from your job because you became or are regarded as pregnant, you have a claim against your employer. Many times employers claim they are “relieving a woman from duty” for her own safety. Whatever the excuse, it is up to the woman whether she needs to take time away from work to handle pregnancy-related issues, and is not up to the employer to make that decision. Any adverse employment action taken against you while you are pregnant or after you notify your employer that you are pregnant should be met with immediate scrutiny. If you or someone you love is being discriminated against due to pregnancy it is advisable to speak with a pregnancy discrimination lawyer right away.
What To Do If You Are Being Discriminated Against Because Of Pregnancy In The Workplace
If you want to prove that an employer has acted in a discriminatory manner, you’re going to need to understand what constitutes discrimination, and gather evidence. Keep a record of any events or statements that may substantiate your claim. For example, a supervisor’s email stating that he/she wishes you had waited until after the merger to have a baby should not be deleted!
If any co-workers were present during the discriminatory behavior, ask if they are willing to make a statement about their observations.
Seek legal counsel. You have rights. At Joseph & Norinsberg LLC, our experienced, compassionate New York City pregnancy discrimination attorneys will fight tirelessly to protect those rights, whether you are facing workplace discrimination related to pregnancy, childbirth, maternity, or gender.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some examples of pregnancy or maternity discrimination?
- Inappropriate or harassing comments about pregnancy, such as “this is what happens when you decide to have babies.”
- Asking a job applicant whether she plans to have children.
- Failing to provide flexible training options for pregnant employees or those who have recently returned from maternity leave.
- Failure to provide proper compensation to an employee on maternity leave.
- Failure to properly communicate with an employee on maternity leave.
- Penalizing an employee for pregnancy-related sickness.
- Unjustifiably refusing to allow an employee to return on a part-time basis following maternity leave.
What might be used as evidence of pregnancy discrimination?
- Policies that treat pregnant employees less favorably than others.
- Emails or voice messages indicating pregnancy bias or harassment.
- An adverse action that occurred shortly after the decision-maker learned of your pregnancy.
- Neutral policies that disproportionately impact pregnant workers.
Should I disclose being pregnant during an interview?
Although you are under no legal obligation to report your pregnancy during an interview, you may wish to consider the personal consequences of hiding a pregnancy. If you get hired and accept the job, having failed to report such a significant detail may appear dishonest.
What is a pregnant employee’s right to a leave of absence?
A pregnant employee covered by FMLA is entitled to 12 weeks of pregnancy-related leave. If the employee is also covered by ADA, she may be entitled to an extended leave of absence due to a pregnancy-related disability.
Contact A New York City Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Today
If you have been a victim of pregnancy or gender-based discrimination in the workplace, an NYC pregnancy discrimination lawyer at Joseph & Norinsberg LLC can help. Pregnancy discrimination cases are complex, and many of the issues are fact-intensive and require systematic analysis by a trained employment attorney. Indeed, many employers try to characterize the situation as being the woman’s fault (as in the Mets story above)! We have been protecting the rights of NY and NJ workers for more than 20 years. Our knowledgeable team of employment lawyers will conduct a thorough analysis of your unique case and position you for the best possible outcome.
Don’t go through this difficult process alone; contact a pregnancy discrimination lawyer and book a free and confidential consultation through our website today.