Punished for a Pregnancy: A Unique Form of Workplace Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination is a particularly dangerous form of sexism in the workplace given how much pressure exists on working women to work increasingly longer hours, particularly in the financial industry and tech industry. For pregnant women in these and other industries, while opportunities exist for women to take more leave when they become pregnant, discrimination often lurks upon their return.

Since men often do not need as much leave as women, they have more opportunity to advance to higher positions within a company. Treating pregnant women according to different performance, compensation and workplace standards can lead to discrimination claims, even if a company is providing more opportunity or accommodation than it thinks it has to under the law.

Discrimination in the Retail Sector

At the retail level, Walmart has been found guilty of discriminating against pregnant workers, treating them, as one employee stated, like “second-class citizens.” Two pregnant employees filed a class action lawsuit earlier last month, claiming that Walmart makes on-the-job concessions to many non-pregnant disabled workers, yet fails to extend those same accommodations to pregnant workers.

Among these accommodations are breaks from heavy lifting or physically taxing work. After one pregnant employee requested a break from heavy lifting during her pregnancy, she was told that being pregnant was “no excuse” for being exempt from her normal duties as a bakery and deli clerk at a Florida Walmart. As a result, she was sent after suffering an injury while lifting a 35 pound tray of rotisserie chicken. The worker was ultimately let go following her pregnancy.

In another instance, a pregnant woman was forced to take 2 months of unpaid leave during her pregnancy following a request to not climb ladders during her shifts. After returning from her pregnancy, she was reinstated to a position in which she was paid two dollars less hourly than the position she held before becoming pregnant.

New York Pregnancy Laws: Know Your Rights

In order to avoid a similar situation, it is crucial to understand the laws surrounding what your employer can and cannot do if you are a pregnant worker. Under federal, state and city anti-discrimination laws, New York employers are mandated to make accommodations for pregnant workers experiencing disabling conditions. In order to receive accommodations, pregnant employees are required to provide employers with medical information that verifies the existence of a pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition that requires medical accommodation.

Discrimination due to a pregnancy is not only unethical but unlawful. Having to face pregnancy discrimination from an employer can make you feel frightened and helpless, especially when you are unaware of your rights. An attorney can inform you of the law surrounding pregnancy discrimination help you understand your rights to pregnancy accommodations. The Law Office of Christopher Q. Davis is happy to assist you in dealing with your pregnancy discrimination. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930.