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EEOC Decision Strengthens Protections for Pregnant Women

Dec. 18, 2017

Most employees understand that they cannot be discriminated against because of sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. But what many employees might not know is that this goes on beyond simple sex discrimination. Of course an employer cannot fire you simply because you are a woman or a man, but Title VII also extends to other immutable characteristics related to gender. Most recently, the EEOC held that under Title VII, an employer cannot discriminate against a female employee because she is pregnant.

The Quality Solutions, LLC Case

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions, in the case of Quality Solutions, LLC, a pregnant woman contacted the employer seeking a temporary position. However, the employer refused to hire her for a job in a warehouse, telling her that because she was pregnant, she could get hurt.

The woman filed a complaint in federal court, and under the terms of a settlement announced by the EEOC, the employer has now agreed to pay her $22,500 for refusing to hire her because of her pregnancy. According to the EEOC, the settlement shows that employers cannot make decisions about whether a certain type of work is safe or not for a pregnant woman. Every pregnant woman is free to make these decisions without interference from an employer.

Both Federal and Illinois Law Protects Women From Discrimination Over Pregnancy

Under Title VII, women cannot be discriminated against for pregnancy, childbirth, or any related conditions. While the Quality Solutions case is one example of how this works when a complaint goes to court, refusal to hire is only one example of illegal pregnancy discrimination.

Of course women cannot be fired simply because they are pregnant, but employers must also make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women as well, such as additional time setting, or perhaps more frequent short breaks. If a woman needs time off because of a pregnancy-related condition, or for childbirth, an employer is required under federal law to provide the same amount of time off as any other employee would receive for a short-term disability.

In addition, employers must provide the same type of health insurance coverage to pregnant woman as they provide to every other employee. It is illegal to require pregnant women to pay higher deductibles, or to provide different health benefits for single pregnant women as opposed to married pregnant women.

And in addition to pursuing a federal lawsuit, any woman who is discriminated against because of a pregnancy in Illinois can also file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

Contact an Employment Discrimination Lawyer Today

Federal law is clear that employers cannot discriminate against you for any reason related to your sex, and this latest case shows that this protection encompasses pregnant women as well. If you feel that your employer has retaliated against your or terminated you because of your sex, an experienced Roselle employment discrimination attorney can review your case. Contact the Law Office of Michael T. Smith today for a consultation.