Being fired during pregnancy or shortly after returning from maternity leave may be the first issues that come to mind when thinking about pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, but Austin pregnancy discrimination attorney Daniel B. Ross knows illegal treatment can take other forms too. Often the first signs of impending discrimination based on pregnancy are comments that the pregnant employee won’t be able to do her job now or won’t want to work anymore. Employers may demote, fail to promote, or reduce the hours or pay of a pregnant employee. A highly qualified job applicant may find that she is not hired because of her pregnancy.
Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (which amended Title VII of 1964’s groundbreaking Civil Rights Act), is the law which states that employers must avoid many forms of pregnancy-based sex discrimination. This law applies to businesses with 15 or more employees and most state and federal agencies. One key exception includes “uniformed members of the military.”
The law prohibits on-the-job harassment and adverse employment actions like write-ups, reduced pay, layoff, or wrongful termination because of pregnancy. Under this amendment, a woman living through a pregnancy, childbirth and “related conditions” must receive the same treatment as employees with other medical conditions.
Other examples of discrimination can include pushing a pregnant employee to take unpaid medical leave while she’s still fully capable of performing her job. Pregnancy discrimination also can include pressuring an employee to begin her designated maternity leave early (when there’s no medical necessity) or refusing to let an employee take her full leave.
On June 27, 2023, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) went into effect which protects workers’ rights to “reasonable accommodation” due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
About the Texas Workforce Commission and EEOC
The Texas Workforce Commission website states that to avoid pregnancy discrimination, employers must make sure “employees are not adversely treated due to pregnancy,” and that pregnant employees receive reasonable accommodation. Employers also must extend benefits and treatment to pregnant employees equal to that extended to other employees with medical conditions.
In addition, the EEOC clearly states that employers must offer the same alternative assignments, light duty, disability leave or unpaid leave to pregnant employees as it would to other “temporarily disabled employees.”
When you work with an Austin employment lawyer at Ross • Scalise Employment Lawyers, he or she will help you determine if your employer discriminated against you and help you document and pursue your claim.
How Can I Prove Pregnancy Discrimination in Texas?
If you believe you were terminated or laid off based on pregnancy, you first need to prove your employer knew of your pregnancy and it is the reason for the adverse employment action.
You also need to demonstrate that you were sufficiently qualified for the job you held and that your job performance met reasonable or legitimate employer expectations and that other (non-pregnant) employees were treated differently than you.
Proving your case as it relates to a “layoff” or “down-sizing” or other forms of reduction in force (RIF) depends on similar criteria and can include cases in which you were discharged or demoted based on your pregnancy, while non-pregnant employees in a similar situation were not.
Consult an Austin Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney
The workplace discrimination lawyers at Ross • Scalise Employment Lawyers have handled many discrimination cases based on pregnancy as well as other forms of gender discrimination. We understand all aspects of employment law and welcome the opportunity to discuss your pregnancy discrimination claim with you. If you believe your employer has discriminated against you because of your pregnancy, we can offer the guidance you need to make a claim that seeks to hold your current or former employer accountable for the harms and losses caused by the illegal treatment. Contact us for a telephone evaluation.