Although the number of pregnancy discrimination cases has been steadily rising, around 60 percent of claimants lose their cases each year. Regrettably, like many gender-based discrimination cases, proving an employer denied you a job, promotion, or other benefits because of your pregnancy can be exceedingly difficult. Here are a couple of the challenges that you'll need to overcome if you hope to win your lawsuit.
The Discrimination Is Subtle
Very rarely is pregnancy discrimination overt. One woman was able to successfully collect $75,000 in damages from a previous employer because the company publically stated it had a "No Pregnancy in the Workplace" policy. Anyone who became pregnant would be summarily fired. Unfortunately for the company, its policy ran afoul of the Civil Rights Act which protects pregnant women from this type of discrimination.
Most women, however, aren't so lucky. The discrimination they face is often more subtle. Sometimes it's throwaway comments such as "You can kiss that promotion goodbye if you go on maternity leave". Other times the acts are more egregious such as having hours cut for no apparent reason or being discouraged from returning to work after maternity leave. While it may seem obvious to you that you're being treated unfairly because you're exercising your reproductive rights, it can be difficult to make a case out of these types of subtle snubs and actions.
However, sometimes you can still win your case if you have enough compelling circumstantial evidence. For example, if you can establish a pattern of behavior at the company with regards to pregnant employees (e.g. all pregnant employees' hours were cut for no reason), then you may be able to get a judge to side with you.
The Employer Pulls A Bait And Switch
Another problem is that the employer may claim that he or she acted against you because of some other reason unrelated to your pregnancy. A popular excuse is that you were fired for performance issues, even though you may have had stellar job performance reviews prior to becoming pregnant. If you were denied a promotion, the employer may give the position to someone else and claim that the person was better qualified when the opposite is true.
Sometimes the employer will intentionally set up pregnant employees for failure by holding the person to a different standard or changing workplace rules for no good reason. For instance, the person may deny the pregnant employee extra bathroom breaks and write her up each time she went to the restroom without permission.
In this case, you'll need to provide evidence that directly refutes the employer's claims or shows the employer instituted policies designed to cause you to fail. For example, you can provide copies of your performance reviews to show you were a good employee and things only took a turn downward after you got pregnant.
Proving pregnancy discrimination can be challenging, but it is possible if you have the right help. Contact a personal injury attorney for assistance with building a case that helps you win in court.
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