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What Is Pregnancy Discrimination?

Becoming pregnant can be a truly joyous event for many women and their partners. However, it can also be a problem if you have an employer that does not appropriately handle the issue by granting you the accommodations you need. You are legally entitled to certain assistance, but if your employer does not know or chooses to disregard this, you may be able to bring suit to compel them to follow the law. Read on for more information about determining what is pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

“Temporary Disability”

Under both South Carolina and federal law, treating a pregnant woman unfairly due to her status is against the law. Pregnant workers are supposed to be treated as temporarily disabled, which means that they are entitled to reasonable accommodations like light duty, switching to another shift, or allowed short-term disability leave. Refusal to do so is considered discriminatory, and may be actionable. What many do not realize, however, is that even conditions associated with pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, may be enough to classify someone as disabled under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).

Like with other temporary disabilities, such as those that might be enough to warrant granting leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), it is important to know that a pregnant employee’s job must be held open for them during their time away, and it or a substantially similar position must be available to return to when the employee’s leave time is up. To do otherwise creates an unfair environment in which someone may need to take leave to handle an extremely serious situation and wind up being punished for it when they return to work.

Harassment Happens

Pregnancy is a common characteristic that provokes harassment from some coworkers or superiors. Harassment is not one or two odd comments; it is a concerted pattern of disruptive, rude and even malevolent actions that eventually amount to a hostile work environment. It is important to keep in mind that such behavior need not come from a direct superior to qualify as such; in fact, it can even come from a client or outside agent – the crux of the matter is what an employer does to stop it (or allows it to continue unchecked).

Harassment can also be grounds for complaint if it plays a role in some sort of adverse employment action, even if it ostensibly comes from a wish to stop the treatment. For example, if the pregnant worker is terminated or demoted in order to get them out of being in the same department with the harasser, the mistreatment may stop – but only at the expense of the victim’s livelihood. This is unjust by any measure, but it is not uncommon for an employer to do this and then try to sell their decision as a fix for the issue. Keeping extensive records of your own may help to eradicate the issue, but ultimately, being aware of what is pregnancy discrimination is most helpful.

Call An Experienced Attorney

When you are trying to plan for a new addition to your family, the last thing you need is your employer making it difficult to do so. If you believe you have suffered harassment in the workplace or just want more answers to the question: What is pregnancy discrimination, contact Hitchcock & Potts.  Attorney A. Christopher Potts has years of experience with employment discrimination cases, and is happy to sit down with you and try to see if you have a case that may grant you the settlement you deserve. Contact the office today to set up an initial appointment.

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