In spite of multiple federal laws and discrimination acts created specifically to protect pregnant women, discrimination and wrongful termination associated with pregnancy are on the rise. A study conducted by Citizens Advice found that pregnancy and maternity workplace discrimination has risen by 25%. Other pregnancy discrimination advocates believe the percentage is even higher, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) receives thousands of complaints each year. One of the most recent lawsuits that serves as a reminder of how prevalent pregnancy discrimination is involves a Colorado attorney who was fired after her employer discovered she was pregnant.
The Lawyer’s Claims
Jennifer Rodriguez was offered a position after being interviewed by the Beninelli Law Firm located in Westminster, Colorado. Rodriguez was approximately six months pregnant when she was hired and after her first ten days working for the law firm Rodriguez told another associate that she was pregnant. After notifying the law firm of her condition, Rodriguez alleges that she was questioned about her intentions regarding her pregnancy and the child. She claims that she was asked if she was a surrogate, if she was keeping the baby, and whether or not she was suffering from any pregnancy related complications that would affect the birth or health of the baby. Rodriguez was then promptly fired and replaced by an employee who was not pregnant.
Hiring and Pregnancy
The experience that Jennifer Rodriguez had is not that uncommon. Even though employers are prohibited from inquiring about a pregnancy during an interview, it still happens quite often. If an employer does not ask, a newly hired employee must still discuss a pregnancy with human resources or her supervisor in order to take leave. The debate regarding disclosure is ongoing and controversial, but so far many women experience discrimination or wrongful termination no matter what choice they make. Employees who are not fired may find themselves dealing with other forms of discrimination including a refusal to make accommodations that are legally mandatory.
The EEOC began offering additional guidance in response to the mounting number of pregnancy and maternity related complaints. Additional information regarding how employers are supposed to comply with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the EEOC also provided instructions explaining how companies are required to treat employees who are pregnant. In the case of Jennifer Rodriguez, the EEOC initially contacted her former employer to discuss how best to proceed. When negotiations failed, the EEOC initiated a lawsuit on Rodriguez’s behalf based on federal law and Colorado’s own strict employment laws.
HKM Employment Attorneys
Recognizing and addressing pregnancy related discrimination is difficult, even under the best of circumstances. Not every expectant mother is aware of her legally protected rights, and in some cases, employers are unaware of their legal obligations. If you find yourself being dismissed from a job after disclosing a pregnancy, talk to a wrongful termination attorney. The team at HKM Employment Attorneys takes protecting the rights of all employees seriously and we are able to represent you if you are the target of discrimination based on your pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition. Conveniently located in Denver, Colorado we are available to discuss your situation and provide you with the advice you need. Contact us to schedule an initial consultation so that we can begin providing you with the legal representation you deserve.