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Elizabeth Warren Sheds Light On Pregnancy Discrimination

As the 2020 presidential campaign ramps up, stories from the candidates’ pasts are being discussed in the media and evaluated for their truth. In particular, Elizabeth Warren’s story of being fired from her job as a schoolteacher in 1971 after she began to visibly show her pregnancy has raised awareness of the issue that is pregnancy discrimination, which is still endemic in this day and age. So, Elizabeth Warren is shedding light on pregnancy discrimination.

“Unspoken Rules”

Senator Warren has repeatedly told the story of her being fired when she became visibly pregnant with her first child. She discusses how she was called to the principal’s office and “shown the door.” News outlets questioned the story, picking on her word choices and school board minutes to argue that she left, rather than was fired. However, further research yielded what many women know already: that most employers were (and are) too canny to explicitly state that someone is being fired due to pregnancy. Instead, they rely on “unspoken rules” and office culture to force pregnant workers out.

Warren was a victim of a very common culture at the time; pregnant women were seen as unreliable because of their precarious health, in addition to the fact that women were still largely expected to stay home with their children once they were born. Thus, employers very often preemptively asked women to resign, or otherwise made it too difficult for them to remain employed (this is called constructive termination). While overt discrimination on this basis was outlawed in 1978 in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, too many “unspoken rules” wind up forcing out pregnant workers to this day.

Hard To Prove

Warren’s story is relevant for anyone who can have children today. The demanding nature of many workplaces still sees a pregnant worker (or potentially pregnant worker) as a liability. Quotas and benchmarks may not be met if too many workers need to take family time off, they figure. However, employers have gotten even more adept at forcing out workers without explicitly linking the termination to pregnancy. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sees thousands of complaints of pregnancy discrimination each year, with $17.2 million in benefits being awarded according to the most recent available data.

If you believe that you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination, you should be aware that in some situations, pregnancy must, by law, be treated as a temporary disability, entitled to accommodations. However, in other situations, a pregnant worker has no protection—especially not when they allegedly underperform at their job or otherwise act in a way that could give rise to termination. It can be quite difficult to prove actual discrimination because there are too many plausible reasons for a company to explain away negative employment actions. However, it is certainly not impossible, and it is worth trying to seek justice if you believe you have been mistreated.

Call A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Lawyer

While Warren’s firing took her life in a different direction, leading her to law school and politics, not every woman who is discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy is able to rebound. It is significant that she has shed light on pregnancy discrimination. If you have questions about whether or not you have been discriminated against, calling a South Carolina pregnancy discrimination lawyer is a good idea. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has been handling these cases for years, and is happy to assist you with yours. Contact the firm of Hitchcock & Potts today.

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