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Questions about Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

What are my rights if I informed my employer that I was pregnant and got laid off?

Discrimination against pregnancy is considered illegal. Federal and many state laws are against discrimination based on pregnancy, child birth or related medical conditions. Federal law applies to employers with fifteen or more employees. There are many forms of pregnancy discrimination. Actions from employers based on pregnancy discrimination include: refusing to hire a pregnant applicant, firing or demoting a pregnant employee, denying the same or similar job when they return from a pregnancy related leave, and treating the pregnant employee differently than other employees. If an employee has faced any of the above, she may have a case for wrongful termination and/or pregnancy discrimination and can consider suing the employer. However, the employee may also have to prove conclusively that the action taken by the employer was a direct act of discrimination and was because of the pregnancy and not any other work or performance related issue that does not constitute discrimination. This can be tricky to prove and can result in many legal questions like the ones answered below.

If someone feels as if they are being discriminated against due to pregnancy what should they do?

It is always wise to follow the chain of command. If a co-worker is the one discriminating, then you should speak to you supervisor as the first step. On the other hand if discrimination is by the supervisor, then you would need to speak to the executive director or someone in senior management. If no action is taken, then you may want to consider filing a complaint with the local EEOC office and state that you believe you are being discriminated against because of the pregnancy. If applicable, you may also want to state that the harassment has resulted in a hostile work environment.

If it is standard policy for all employees of a specific company to have a certain vaccine in order to be employed, is it discrimination if a pregnant person cannot have the vaccine and is terminated for not receiving the vaccine?

During pregnancy, many vaccines are not safe to take and in many situations the employer should not be able to terminate employment because of refusal to take the vaccine for medical reasons. Many times this may be considered a form of discrimination. The employee in this case may have a legitimate reason to contact the EEOC for more investigation. The employer should not single someone out to have a procedure that could harm the health of their baby. If there is a doctor’s note showing that the mother should not get this vaccine, and the refusal to take the vaccine would not affect the ability to work, the employer should abide by the request and protect them and others from possible infection. Also, you may need to speak to an employment attorney to protect yourself in this issue, just in case there is any retaliation or if you were to be terminated because of the EEOC investigation.

In the state of Alabama if a company has less than fifteen employers can an employee file a EECO claim for pregnancy discrimination?

The federal law protects employees that work for employers with 15 or more employees. If your employer has less than 15 employees, then a pregnant employee may not have a legitimate case for pregnancy discrimination and may not be able to file a claim with EECO.

If someone is pregnant and unemployed, can she receive disability benefits?

State Disability Insurance Benefits are available to all forms of disabilities that prevent a person from working full-time. If a person is considered disabled because of pregnancy then she would normally be eligible for state disability benefits. However, if she is not currently employed, then she should be looking for employment at the time the application is filled out. Informing the investigator that you are taking time off or that you are out of town visiting family, etc., can result in a denial of benefits. Instances of discrimination are never easy to prove. When you face pregnancy discrimination, it can be quite an unsettling experience and can lead to uncertainty about your legal standing. If you feel you are getting discriminated against, you should consider seeking professional help or legal inputs and insights from Experts in Employment Law.
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