What to do about pregnancy discrimination

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What to do about pregnancy discrimination

My management forced me out on pregnancy disability at 20 weeks, losing out on 8 weeks of baby bonding time. They refused reasonable accommodations, which had been extended to other injured employees. Seeking advice and possible outcomes

Asked on January 2, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Speak to an employment law attorney: this may be discrimation, based on the exact facts:
1) Forcing you out on pregnancy disability: what is your job? were you still able to do it safely at 20 weeks? If you could not safely do your job--e.g. due to doctor's orders, due to the nature of the job (lots of climbing ladders; exposure to chemicals or radiation; lifting heavier weights than is safe for you; etc.) then the employer could tell you that you have to go on disability. They do not need to expose you, your child, or themselves to unreasonable risk.
On the hand, if you could still do your job safely then, this may well have been illegal discrimination.
2) Reasonable accommodations: it depends on what the accommodations you wanted were, whether they were in fact reasonable for the employer, and whether they left you able to do the core or important parts of your job. Example: a woman works in a warehouse and a key part of her job is fulfilling orders, which involves carrying weights of up to 30 or 40 pounds (heavier products). Her doctor says that she can't lift over 10 pounds, but there is no way she can do her job if she can only lift 10 pounds. Restricting her weight that much is not a reasonable accommodation, since a reasonable accommodation allows the workers to still do the job. The company is not required to transfer her to a different position.
The above said, IF the employer chose to go above and beyond it's normal obligations and let other disabled (e.g. hurt arm or back) warehouse workers who couldn't lift weights do different jobs, then they should have given the woman the same opportunity: they don't have to treat a pregnant woman better then workers with other disabilities, but can't treat her worse, either. 
So depending on the job and requested accommodation and what exactly was done for other workers requesting the same accommodation, this may or may not be discrimination.
That is why you should consult with an attorney, who can evaluate the specifics of his case.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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