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Pregnancy Discrimination and FMLA Violations

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For working men and women, it can be difficult to manage the high expectations of a demanding career with the desire to have a family. Particularly for pregnant women, pressures stemming from co-workers, supervisors or the policies of employers can cross a thin line into illegal behavior.

A form of unlawful sex discrimination, pregnancy discrimination happens when an employer treats an employee differently based on her pregnancy or related conditions. Pregnancy discrimination can occur at any point in the employment relationship, from the moment they are hired to their termination. It is unlawful to refuse to hire someone because they are pregnant, or to give assignments, promotions, or demotions based on pregnancy. It’s also illegal to terminate a woman because she is pregnant.

If you have been treated unfairly in the workplace because of your pregnancy, contact attorney Stuart Higgins today so we can discuss your case. At Higgins Law Firm, PLLC, we work closely with each client to make sure all facts and details of their pregnancy discrimination incident are reviewed. If we believe you have a discrimination case, we will work hard to pursue a fair result for you. Call (515) 619-9148 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our skilled and experienced Iowa pregnancy discrimination lawyers.

Family Versus Career: You Shouldn’t Have to Choose

At Higgins Law Firm, PLLC, we believe that pregnancy should be a joyful experience for expecting mothers, not a choice between having a fulfilling family life and dedication to career advancement. With numerous state and federal protections in place, we can explain your rights and help to ensure you are treated with respect and dignity.

  • Maternity and parental leave: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) protects pregnant mothers from workplace discrimination when it comes to nearly all matters of employment including insurance, hiring and firing, pay and work assignments. Furthermore, employers are usually required to provide employees and their spouses with paid or unpaid leave for the care of their new child under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  • Temporary disability: Although it may seem strange to classify pregnancy as a temporary disability, it helps employers to understand their obligations to pregnant employees. Falling under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers should provide leave, light-duty assignments and added privacy to limit undue hardships placed upon new or expecting mothers.
  • Discrimination and harassment: It is against the law to harass or discriminate against an employee who is pregnant, who has recently had a child or is going through medical treatment related to her pregnancy. Employers have a duty to protect their employees from discrimination and harassment and can be held accountable for condoning such behavior.

How Our Pregnancy Discrimination Attorneys Can Help

The pregnancy discrimination attorneys at Higgins Law Firm, PLLC understand the complex state and federal laws and how they protect pregnant women in Des Moines throughout Iowa. We also the ways in which disability laws combine with pregnancy disability protections to protect pregnancy employees before and after they give birth. Under law, pregnant employees must be granted reasonable accommodations and may not be discriminated against due to their pregnancy. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) advises employers, must provide pregnancy employees with the alternative assignments, tasks, disability leave, and unpaid leave, and accommodating schedules similar to how they treat disabled employees.

If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated or discriminated against for being pregnant by your employer, you should speak with an attorney about what happened as soon as possible. A skilled pregnancy discrimination attorney can help you determine if you have a case and will outline all your best legal options in a way that’s easy to understand. An attorney can also guide you through the complicated process of pre-filing a claim with the EEOC. Finally, an attorney can represent you in court if necessary.

At Higgins Law Firm, PLLC, our Iowa pregnancy discrimination lawyers will explore your employment history, past raises or promotions, and any disciplinary action in comparison to other employees to help you determine the illegality of your employer’s actions. It is unlawful for your employer to treat you differently than your non-pregnant co-workers. They cannot deny your promotion, transfer you to another department, terminate you, or penalizing you in any way because of your pregnancy. If any of these situations, or a similar situation applies to you, contact Higgins Law Firm, PLLC today so we can look at filing a pregnancy discrimination claim and explore the remedies and compensation potentially available to you.

Remedies and Compensation for Pregnancy Discrimination

If you have the victim of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, you may be entitled to certain remedies and compensation. An experienced Iowa pregnancy discrimination lawyer can review your case and give you an idea of the types of damages you may be able to recover.

Victims of pregnancy discrimination may recover remedies including:

  • Back pay
  • Promotion
  • Reinstatement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages
  • Actions that will make the individual “whole,” or back in the condition she was in prior to the discrimination
  • Attorneys’ fees

If you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination, the experienced Iowa pregnancy discrimination attorneys at Higgins Law Firm, PLLC will aggressively pursue all of your legal remedies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Regarding Pregnancy Discrimination

At Higgins Law Firm, PLLC, we get a lot of questions from clients regarding pregnancy discrimination. Below are some of the questions we get asked most often. We hope you find our answers helpful. If you have any questions about your particular pregnancy discrimination case, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced and compassionate attorneys by calling (515) 619-9148 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

What are some examples of pregnancy discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace can involve employers:

  • Refusing to hire someone because they are pregnant
  • Demoting or terminating someone who is pregnant
  • Failing to accommodate a pregnant employee
  • Refusing to modify a pregnant employee’s job duties in order to accommodate their medical limitations
  • Participating or allowing harassment related to the employee’s pregnancy, such as frequent jokes and inappropriate comments
  • Pressuring an employee to take leave because of the pregnancy
  • Denying a pregnant employee the opportunity to return to the same job when they return from maternity leave

Any adverse employment action that employers take against a pregnant employee, or an employee who has recently given birth, can constitute pregnancy discrimination. Talk to an attorney if you have questions about whether the treatment you have experienced classifies as pregnancy discrimination.

What if my employer makes comments about my pregnancy?

Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, your supervisor is prohibited from making unwelcome or inappropriate comments about your pregnancy. If you feel that your boss is making inappropriate comments, contact the experienced Iowa pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Higgins Law Firm, PLLC so we can discuss your case and your rights.

Does the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) protect women who are not currently pregnant based on their intention or ability to become pregnant?

Yes, the PDA protection extends to differential treatment based on an employee’s childbearing capacity. Policies restricting employees from certain jobs based on childbearing capacity are typically prohibited. An employer’s concern about risks to a pregnant employee rarely justifies these restrictions.

Is an employee protected from discrimination because of a past pregnancy?

Yes, an employee may not be subjected to discrimination because of a past pregnancy, childbirth, or similar medical condition. For instance, an employer would be in violation of the PDA by terminating an employee after she returns from medically-related pregnancy leave following childbirth if the employee’s pregnancy is the reason for the termination. The close proximity between the employee’s return to work and the employer’s decision to terminate her would constitute evidence of pregnancy discrimination.

If you are able to do your job, are you required to take leave?

If you are pregnant, you cannot be forced to take leave as long as you can perform your job. This violates the PDA, even if your employer believes they are acting in your best interest.

Contact Us Today

If you believe that you are being treated unlawfully because of your pregnancy or a related condition, contact attorney Stuart Higgins to confidentially share your story. At our firm, we work one-on-one with each client to ensure that no detail is overlooked. If you have a case, we will work tirelessly on your behalf to pursue a just result. Call (515) 619-9148 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation at our Des Moines, Iowa, law office.