In 1978, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to make it illegal to discriminate against pregnant women in employment and in other areas. Nonetheless, 35 years later expectant women in Wisconsin are sometimes docked pay because of their pregnancy; they are refused promotions due to pregnancy; and they are sometimes even fired for requesting maternity leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. In other cases, women are sometimes refused employment because of the possibility that they may become pregnant.
Employers that practice any of these forms of pregnancy discrimination, as well as others, can and should be held accountable. Victims of pregnancy discrimination often pursue civil lawsuits to accomplish this. An employer in Illinois recently agreed to settle a pregnancy discrimination complaint that was brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The childcare center, which has about 100 employees and more than four locations, reportedly forced a woman to quit when it refused to schedule her in her fourth month of pregnancy.
Shortly after the case was filed, the employer agreed to pay $31,000 in damages to the victim, as well as report any pregnancy complaints it receives in the next two years to the EEOC. It will also provide training to all of its employees regarding pregnancy discrimination.
As in this case, it is often beneficial for everyone involved to settle an employment claim quickly and out of court, under the guidance of an employment law attorney. However, it is sometimes necessary to go to court and it is wise to be prepared for that.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Adventures in Learning to Pay $31,000 to Settle EEOC Pregnancy Discrimination Case,” Feb. 28, 2013