While many pregnant women in Wisconsin may be aware that they have a right to maternity leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, they may not be aware that they also have certain rights in the workplace before the birth of the child. Under federal law, specifically the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers may not discriminate against female employees on the basis of pregnancy.
Employment laws protect women not only from being fired because of pregnancy, but also from being excluded from work activities because of the employer’s own concerns about the pregnancy or unborn child. For example, an employer in another state was recently sued after firing a pregnant housekeeper on the grounds of the employer’s own concern that the job was not suitable for a pregnant woman.
The franchise owner of Comfort Inn & Suites fired the housekeeper just after finding out that she was pregnant, reportedly due to its worries that the nature of the work could harm the unborn baby.
The Supreme Court has previously found that employers cannot base employment decisions on their own concerns about the safety of an unborn child. This is very important because employers may often have outdated information or hold stereotypes about pregnancy. Essentially, it is not the employer’s place to make decisions about an employee’s pregnancy–and not only that, but it is illegal to do so.
The EEOC attempted to settle this case out of court but was unsuccessful. It is now seeking monetary relief for the victim as well as injunctive relief to prevent the company from further pregnancy discrimination.
Source: U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission, “Owner of Comfort Inn and Suites in Taylor, Mich. Sued by EEOC for Pregnany Discrimination,” Nov. 13, 2012
- More information about employee rights here in Wisconsin is available on our law firm’s Milwaukee Employment Discrimination page.