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Workplace discrimination against pregnancy

Pregnant workers in New York have substantial protections when defending their right to work and hold on to their job. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has outlined the different types of protections that pregnant individuals have from harassment or discrimination.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act comprehensively prohibits any form of discrimination because of pregnancy. A pregnant woman has the right to be treated like any other employee. The law makes it clear that this applies to workplace, issues such as promotion, layoff, any sort of fringe benefit and insurance. Harassment of pregnant women or the creation of a hostile work environment is clearly forbidden. It does not matter whether the harasser is a member of management or if the management simply allows the harassment to occur.

Any sort of pregnancy-related medical condition, must be treated like a temporary disability for medical reasons. The employer must provide light duty or temporary reassignment for any pregnant employee who may require it. If paid disability leave is normally available for a worker in that workplace, then it must be provided to the pregnant woman without prejudice. If the employer can provide only unpaid medical leave, then they must give the employee leave when they need it. Additionally, the Family and Medical Leave Act offers 12 weeks of leave to parents to allow them to offer care to a new child.

Harassing or discomfiting a female employee because of her pregnancy is a form of employment discrimination. It can be beneficial to seek advice from a lawyer as one seeks to develop a lawsuit defending rights and seeking just compensation. Punitive damages may be a possibility in cases where the plaintiff in an employment discrimination suit can demonstrate that an employer or coworker acted with malice or reckless indifference.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Pregnancy Discrimination", October 29, 2014

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