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Pregnancy Discrimination 101 for Employers

Nov. 30, 2020

According to the Illinois Pregnancy Accommodation Act (IPAA), employers have a duty of care for pregnant employees, regardless of the number of employees they have. The law protects expecting mothers who are on the payroll as well as pregnant job application, probationary employees, and part timers.

What Is Pregnancy Discrimination?

The best way to ensure you are not charged with pregnancy discrimination from an expecting employee, is to educate yourself on the nuances of the Illinois Pregnancy Accommodation Act. Pregnancy discrimination involves the treatment of pregnant employees or job applicants unfairly based on childbirth and other conditions related to their state.

Some actions that come under this form of discrimination include the following:

  • Firing or demoting a pregnant employee or applicant

  • Refusing to hire a pregnant applicant because of their condition

  • Refusing to give a similar job to a pregnant employee when she returns to work post childbirth or after a pregnancy leave

  • Treating a pregnant employee unfairly or differently from other disabled employees

  • Refusing to provide health insurance coverage for male employees for their wives’ pregnancy related conditions. (This comes into effect if the wife is an employee of the same company and has access to the same coverage)

Pregnancy or any condition that is related to it, must be treated the same as you would a temporary disability. This can include bed rest recommended by a doctor, severe morning sickness, childbirth recovery and other conditions. As an employer, you are obligated to ensure your pregnant employees receive the same benefits and treatment employees with other disabilities do in the workplace.

Common ways employers can discriminate against pregnant employees include the following:

  • Asking a job applicant how many children they have and if she plans on getting pregnant again. If the applicant informs you she is four months pregnant and is overlooked because of it or asked to return once the child is born, you can be sued.

  • The employee is fired after the employer learns she is pregnant even if she could work for several months more.

  • Refusing to give time off to a pregnant employee for a mandatory doctor’s appointment or docking pay for the hours she was not at work – even if she requires ongoing medical treatment because of her condition.

This is far from an exhaustive list. If you think you are being discriminated against in the workplace because you are expecting a child or after childbirth, you have grounds to sue. Get in touch with our dedicated attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael T. Smith in Schaumburg, IL today.