When an employee announces she is pregnant, the only appropriate response is “Congratulations!” Then give her the information she needs so she can take any leave to which she is entitled. Negative comments can be used to prove pregnancy discrimination, but neutral ones cannot.
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3M Companies appears poised to settle a high-profile age discrimination suit. Earlier this year, the company filed a joint motion for preliminary approval of a class-action settlement involving approximately 7,000 workers. If the Ramsey County District Court agrees, the employees (and their attorneys) will split $12 million.
Some employers believe that pregnant women aren’t entitled to time off for pregnancy-related matters because pregnant women aren’t disabled or unable to perform their jobs. That’s wrong and can land employers in big trouble. The fact is that prenatal visits and even bouts of nausea are the sorts of things that Congress considered when covering pregnancy under the FMLA.
Some employees facing discipline believe that if they file a discrimination complaint, they can escape trouble. If disciplined, they’ll cry “retaliation!” Smart employers counter this subtle form of blackmail by clearly documenting and time-stamping all decisions and the process that led up to those decisions.
Some employees think nothing of threatening their co-workers. Most employers disagree and aggressively move to stop such harassment. Courts are on the employers’ side: They’ll seldom second-guess a decision to fire the culprit.
Under limited circumstances, a job applicant might be able to win a discrimination lawsuit without actually applying for a job. For example, someone could conceivably prove that it would have been be futile to even bother filling out an application. Fortunately, such cases are rare.