Is it legal to move a female employee from one position to another because of her pregnancy?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Is it legal to move a female employee from one position to another because of her pregnancy?

My wife was recently hired at a company. She told them that she was pregnant after they hired her. A few days later, they called her to a meeting and told her that they wanted to move her to a different position. They are moving her from salary to hourly pay but insist that she will be compensated the same amount. They are also

saying that they will return her to this position in a year, after her pregnancy has ended. Is it legal for the company to do this?

Asked on July 29, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Arkansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The issue is whether she in fact suffers a pay cut or loss of some other benefit (e.g. seniority, if seniority matters in her company) due to this. An employer may manage its business, including transferring employees or changing their duties and pay structure if doing so makes sense under the circumstances. What it cannot do is discriminate against an employee for being pregnant; such is considered a form of disabilty-based discrimination (pregnancy is considered a temporary disability for this purpose). But discrimination doesn't mean making an employee subjectively unhappy or dissatisfied; it means objectively costing them something measurable, like pay. So if your wife actually loses pay or something else measurable by this, it would most likely be illegal and she could contact the federal EEOC to file a claim. But if it has little or not effect on her as a practical matter, then even if she does not like it, there is no cognizable harm and no claim.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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