Women who were fired from their jobs because they were pregnant.
What's Going On?
Despite federal regulations, some employers are still firing women simply because they're pregnant.
Can My Employer Fire Me for Being Pregnant?
No. Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, it is illegal for your employer to fire or lay you off simply because you’re pregnant. Furthermore, under the Act, you cannot be fired for having an abortion or for considering one.
Even if your employer comes off as having “good intentions” – e.g., the company’s concerned about your safety – it’s still illegal to fire you because you’re pregnant.
It’s important to note that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act applies only to companies with 15 or more employees.
What If I Can’t Do My Job While Pregnant?
If a woman can’t perform her typical job duties because of her pregnancy (e.g., a delivery driver who must carry large packages to customers), she must be treated as a temporarily disabled employee. In this instance, the employer may need to offer desk work or other “light” assignments, unpaid time off or disability leave. Only in rare cases can a company fire a pregnant woman who cannot carry out her typical job duties.
How Do I Know Whether I Was Fired for Being Pregnant or Not?
It’s not always a clear cut answer – but many women have a hunch that they were fired because they were pregnant. Your employer, for obvious reasons, may not come right out and say you’re losing your job because of your pregnancy, but other signs might point to such a theory, such as:
Your boss didn’t follow procedure. Most companies have procedures for disciplining or firing employees. If your boss didn’t follow protocol when terminating you, this may suggest you were fired because you were pregnant. For instance, many companies offer “warnings” or “write-ups” to employees for poor work performance, arriving late, etc. If your employer said you were fired for any of these reasons – but you never received any warning – this may suggest you were actually fired for discriminatory reasons.
Your employer’s reasoning for your termination doesn’t hold up. If your employer claims you were let go because they wanted to hire someone with a stronger legal/teaching/finance/communications background – but the person they choose to replace you doesn’t meet these qualifications (and, in fact, has no skills different from you), this may suggest you were discriminated against.
You’re not the only one. If there are other pregnant women in your workplace – and they’re losing their jobs as soon as they enter their third trimesters and start taking maternity leave – your company may have a tendency to discriminate against pregnant women.
The timing seems suspicious. If you were fired a few days before you were about to start your pregnancy leave or after the CEO found out you were pregnant and asked you pointed questions about your career intentions, your pregnancy may be the reason you were terminated.
Furthermore, if you were fired shortly before your due date without any real reason or explanation, this may suggest you were wrongfully terminated because you were pregnant.
What Can I Get From a Lawsuit?
In a wrongful termination lawsuit, you could be awarded compensation for:
The cost of job hunting
The wages you lost due to your termination
Have These Cases Been Successful?
Yes. Here are some of the results the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recovered in the last several years:
$100,000 for a woman who was fired after taking five days off to receive medical treatment for a miscarriage
$70,000 for a woman who lost her job after going on pregnancy leave
$31,000 for a pregnant woman who said she was forced to quit her job
$27,500 for a Comfort Inn & Suites housekeeper who alleged the hotel chain fired her because of the harm the work posed to her unborn baby
An undisclosed amount for an executive with the Mets who was allegedly fired for being pregnant and unwed