Pregnancy discrimination occurs when a job applicant or employee who is pregnant is the subject of harassment or an adverse employment action. Like other forms of sex discrimination, pregnancy discrimination is illegal under federal law and Colorado state law. This means that employers are generally required to treat pregnancy the same as they would any other temporary disability.
In 1978, the United States Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, amending Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.). The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employment discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. This law applies to federal and state governments, and to private employers with 15 or more employees.
Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act
Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act has also been interpreted to prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. Colorado Civil Rights Comm’n v. Travelers Ins. Co., 759 P.2d 1358 (Colo. 1988). Unlike Title VII, the Anti-Discrimination Act applies to all private employers, regardless of their number of employees.
Hostile Work Environment Claims
A hostile work environment discrimination claim can be brought by an employee who is subject to harassment in the workplace. A few examples of harassment that could contribute to a hostile work environment include:
- Inappropriate jokes about pregnancy;
- Inappropriate comments about your body;
- Posting or emailing inappropriate pictures relating to pregnancy;
- Asking when you became pregnant;
- Comments or jokes regarding birth control;
- Inappropriate touching; and
- Comments or jokes regarding abortion.
Behaviors such as those listed above will only amount to a hostile work environment if they are severe or continuous, or if they result in an adverse employment action such as being fired. One pregnancy-related joke or comment is not likely to create a hostile work environment on its own. However, if the behavior is very severe, it is possible for one act to create a hostile work environment.
Contact a Colorado Hostile Work Environment Attorney
Pregnancy should be a time of excitement, not a period in which someone is subject to harassment. If you have been a victim of pregnancy harassment, contact an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible. At HKM Employment Attorneys LLP, we have experience assisting victims of pregnancy harassment to get the help they need. We also have experience representing employers who have been accused of harassment.
If you are a victim of pregnancy harassment in the workplace, contact HKM Employment Attorneys LLP online or call us at 303-991-3075 for a private consultation.