Maternity Leave Laws
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What not to say to a pregnant worker: “The baby is taking a toll on you.” Surprisingly, that’s exactly what a four-month-pregnant waitress was told when she was cut from the weekly schedule and then fired. The employer will now pay $20,000 to settle her pregnancy discrimination suit.
Q. Is it a violation of the PDA to fire a pregnant employee for excessive absenteeism and lateness?
Here’s a good reason to make sure pregnant employees don’t experience bias: The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act protects against pregnancy discrimination and holds personally liable anyone who aids or abets discriminatory practices.
California employees now enjoy expanded pregnancy rights after new Fair Employment and Housing Commission regulations took effect Dec. 30, 2012. The regulations bar employers from discriminating against employees for virtually any pregnancy-related condition.
If a woman who has been fired sues for pregnancy discrimination, she doesn’t have to prove that her pregnancy was the sole reason for the termination. She merely has to show that it was a motivating factor.
The only appropriate response to a pregnancy announcement is “Congratulations.” No smart aleck comments, no questions about family size, no wondering aloud how long the employee expects to be out. If the pregnant employee asks about leave, her boss should refer her to HR.
Teen fashion retailer Delia’s will pay $75,000 to two former employees at the chain’s Lehigh Valley Mall store to settle pregnancy discrimination claims. Apparently, pregnant employees didn’t mesh with Delia’s brand image.
An employee must levy very specific allegations for a bias complaint to become protected activity—unless HR already suspects discrimination.
A federal court has refused to expand the ways an employee can sue for alleged pregnancy discrimination. Had the female plaintiff succeeded, the case might have opened the door to a runaway jury award.
Employers experiencing economic difficulties can cut positions if need be and not worry that it cost the job of an employee who was out on maternity leave. But beware! If the decision to cut the employee was based on her having taken leave, she can sue.