Pregnant women in Florida may face discrimination in the workplace that negatively affects their employment, earnings, and opportunity for advancement. Women in the workforce have the right to be treated the same as other employees, regardless of whether they are pregnant or suffer illness or injury related to pregnancy or childbirth. If you are pregnant or were pregnant, you also have the right to work adjustments that will allow you to do your job without jeopardizing your health.
Federal law makes it illegal for employers with 15 or more employees to discriminate against women because of pregnancy, childbirth, abortion, or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. Pregnant workers must be provided with the same benefits and accommodations and treated the same as non-pregnant workers who have similar work-related limitations.
In Florida, the Cruz Law Firm, P.A., of Tallahassee can help you take legal action if you have been subjected to pregnancy-related discrimination in your workplace. We can help to put an end to discrimination against you and other pregnant women where you work. You may have a right to demand compensation for the distress you have needlessly endured. We’ve built a solid reputation across the Florida Panhandle for helping workers pursue workplace discrimination and harassment claims.
Cruz Law attorneys have prevailed in many of the most difficult employment-related lawsuits filed in Florida, including claims against government entities. We’ll fight to help you put your life back on track. Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced Tallahassee pregnancy discrimination lawyer.
Understanding Your Rights as a Pregnant Working Woman
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 makes it illegal for employers with 15 or more employees to discriminate against women because of pregnancy, childbirth, abortion, or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. The Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 also makes it unlawful for an employer with 15 or more employees to discriminate against an employee due to pregnancy.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by adding “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions” to prohibitions on discrimination “on the basis of sex.” The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provide additional protections to women who are, were, or may become pregnant.
Federal laws make it illegal for a covered employer to discriminate against a woman who:
- Is pregnant
- Was pregnant
- Has recently given birth
- Could become pregnant
- Intends to become pregnant
- Has a medical condition related to pregnancy
- Has had an abortion or is considering having an abortion.
If any of the above descriptions fits you, your employer cannot legally terminate your employment, reject your application for a job or promotion, pay you less, or give you lesser assignments. Your employer cannot legally provide you fewer benefits under fringe benefit programs offered to other employees, such as health insurance, sick leave, personal time off, disability insurance, light duty or modified duty, or job transfers.
ADA Accommodations for Pregnant Women
An employer cannot force you to take leave for any of the reasons above if you are able to perform the essential functions of your job. Employers should treat pregnant workers the same as non-pregnant workers who have similar abilities or limitations and provide reasonable accommodations necessary to perform their essential job functions, as required by the ADA.
Accommodations a pregnant woman should be provided if needed may include:
- Altered break and work schedules (breaks to rest, use the restroom, or post-pregnancy, to express milk)
- A private place to pump breast milk
- Permission to sit or stand
- Ergonomic office furniture
- Shift changes
- Elimination of marginal job functions
- Permission to work from home.
An employer does have the right to remove a pregnant worker from a job that they are unable to do or in which they would pose a significant safety risk for others in the workplace.
How the FMLA Protects Pregnant Women
Employers must hold a pregnant woman’s position open while she is on maternity leave or paid or unpaid sick leave if the employer would do so for employees on medical leave unrelated to pregnancy.
A pregnant employee who cannot work because of their pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition may qualify for unpaid medical leave and have their job protected by the FMLA.
Pregnancy-related medical conditions include:
- Morning sickness or persistent nausea and vomiting
- Doctor-ordered bed rest
- Recovery from childbirth
- High blood pressure
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Post-partum depression.
Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace
Actions or behavior in the workplace that may constitute pregnancy discrimination include:
- Not hiring a female applicant based on knowledge of her intention to become pregnant.
- Pressuring a pregnant worker to stay on the job or delay the start of maternity leave, or pressuring a female employee who recently had a child to return to work soon after childbirth.
- Denying reasonable accommodations to a pregnant worker or a worker who recently gave birth.
- Making offensive or derogatory comments about pregnant women or directing comments toward a worker who is pregnant or recently gave birth.
- Discharging a worker who took medical leave for a pregnancy-related condition.
- Requiring medical clearances not required of non-pregnant workers.
- Retaliating against employees who complain about pregnancy discrimination.
How Cruz Law Firm, P.A., Can Help
The Cruz Law Firm is dedicated to representing Florida workers in matters involving unjust treatment and discriminatory practices in the workplace. If you have been subjected to workplace discrimination because of a pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition, a Cruz Law pregnancy discrimination attorney can ensure that you are heard and that your rights are protected by helping you file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
An EEOC complaint alleging pregnancy discrimination initiates a legal claim based on complex employment discrimination laws. The EEOC cannot take sides as it investigates a complaint and will not assist or advise you. However, it is likely that your employer will be represented by counsel and deny your complaint. You will need an experienced employment law attorney representing you. In pregnancy discrimination cases, employers often allege that the pregnant worker was unable or refused to do their job or refused accommodations. Your Cruz Law attorney will help you gather documentation and testimony about what you have had to deal with at work.
We will stand with you and help you seek justice. The EEOC will investigate your complaint and seek to mediate a settlement, which may include compensation for you. If the EEOC cannot reach a settlement satisfactory to you, the agency will likely conclude its investigation by issuing a Notice of Right to Sue letter, which gives you 90 days to file a lawsuit in federal court.
As your attorneys from the start of your complaint, Cruz Law would be able to prepare and file a lawsuit on your behalf within the 90-day window to demand compensation for your emotional distress and other relief, such as back pay and reinstatement. Florida state law allows plaintiffs to recover compensation to make the injured employee financially whole and punitive damages, an additional payment to punish an employer for outrageous conduct.
It is best to speak to an attorney as soon as your employer takes action against you. The EEOC requires you to file a complaint of employment discrimination based on your pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition within 300 days of the alleged violation.
A pregnancy discrimination claim alleging a denial of FMLA leave, or alleging retaliation for requesting or taking FMLA leave, must be filed within two years of the alleged act or three years if your employer willfully did an FMLA violation of your rights.
It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for contacting the EEOC or filing a charge. You should contact an attorney immediately if this occurs.
Reach Out to a Trusted Tallahassee Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney
You do not have to go it alone if you’ve faced discrimination in your Florida workplace related to your pregnancy or intention to become pregnant. A pregnancy discrimination lawyer at Cruz Law Firm can help you hold your employer accountable through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s complaint process.
Cruz Law Firm can help you file an EEOC claim, and if authorities do not come to a settlement that suits you, follow up with a federal lawsuit on your behalf. You may be owed substantial compensation for the distress you’ve been needlessly put through. Your claim could stop your employer from harming others. In some cases, a suit may also seek punitive damages to punish an employer who intentionally created or fostered a work environment hostile to pregnant women.
Contact Cruz Law Firm to learn about how we can provide the legal assistance you need during this difficult time and what to expect during the EEOC claims process. Our experienced pregnancy discrimination lawyers stand up for hard-working women in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and across the Florida Panhandle. Call Cruz Law Firm at (850) 755-9856 today for a free and confidential consultation about protecting your legal rights.