Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (either an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.
Two recent cases highlight the consequences for employers who are found in violation of pregnancy workplace laws.
A Florida employer was fined $100,000 for pregnancy discrimination. After receipt of an employment offer, the applicant inquired about maternity benefits. The company then rescinded the job offer. Click here to read more about this case.
In another case, a jury awarded a former female worker $550,000 in a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The former worker's supervisor subjected her to requirements not imposed on non-pregnant workers, including, denying her access to drinking water, requiring her to inform her co-workers she needed a bathroom break and denied her the ability to leave work early for prenatal appointments. She further alleged she was terminated in front of others for her "less than 100% performance".
Oftentimes, claims of pregnancy discrimination arise when there is a lack of training provided to individuals who supervise others. It is important to understand the laws that govern discrimination and how to avoid costly lawsuits.
HR TIP: When was the last time you provided discrimination/harassment prevention training to your supervisors? California employers should take note...this lawsuit could have had additional penalties for not making reasonable accommodations under the Pregnancy Disability law.