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Pregnant employees still discriminated against at the workplace

It is in many cases illegal for New York employers to fire an employee because they became pregnant or wish to take maternity leave. There have been several significant cases that have dealt with discrimination against pregnant employees, including a Nasty Gal lawsuit in 2015 and an AutoZone lawsuit in 2014.

In June 2015, the clothing retailer Nasty Gal was sued after a former employee alleged that three pregnant workers and a male worker who was preparing to take paternity leave were illegally fired. The company claimed that the layoffs were part of a restructuring that was being undertaken. In 2014, a California court awarded $185 million to a San Diego mother after she was demoted and had her workload increased when she found out she was pregnant. She was reportedly fired after she complained.

Part of the problem appears to be assumptions that are made about pregnant employees by society or even other workers. In some cases, pregnant employees or parents of small children may be viewed as less committed or may have their work be more scrutinized. A San Diego employment lawyer noted that it was these types of assumptions that were driving many pregnant employees or parents of young children from the workforce.

Pregnant employees are protected from employment discrimination under federal law. If an employee is laid off or fired due to her pregnancy, an attorney may assist the employee with providing evidence that employer was discriminating. Evidence may include emails, texts or even poor performance reviews after the employee has disclosed the pregnancy. Depending on the strength of the case and the evidence available, the employee may seek compensation for any income that they may have lost and they may potentially have the ability to seek punitive damages.

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