Women are often at a disadvantage in the workplace when they become pregnant. A new baby is supposed to be a source of joy rather than job-related anxiety. While federal and New York laws clearly prohibit pregnancy discrimination, many employers continue to illegally withhold job offers or promotions because a female employee is expecting.
New York EEOC Obtains $118,000 Judgment Over Pregnancy Discrimination
On June 2, the New York office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it obtained a judgment of more than $118,000 against a debt collection agency that rescinded a female employee's promotion after it learned she was pregnant.
According to the EEOC's complaint, the employee applied for work with the employer in 2011. The employer initially offered her a position a “collections specialist.” She declined, stating she wanted a “management-level position.” The employer responded by offering her a higher starting salary “and assured her that promotional opportunities would be available early in her career.”
Based on these statements, the EEOC said the employee accepted the job offer. Within a few months of starting work, the employer offered the employee a managerial promotion. Approximately two months later, the employee told her supervisor that she was pregnant. A few weeks after that, the EEOC said the employer “rescinded” the promotion offer because of the pregnancy. More specifically, the employer told the employee that she “needed to focus on her health” and would be taking maternity leave during the company's busiest season.
According to the EEOC, the rescinded promotion cost the employee “at least an additional $20,000 in wages” and other compensation that she would have earned in her first year as a manager. Overall, the EEOC calculated the employee's lost wages at more than $68,000, which included the time she was “out of work” until finding a managerial job at another company. In addition to lost wages, the EEOC also sought “compensatory and punitive” damages of $50,000, for a total of more than $118,000.
Although the employer initially contested the EEOC's lawsuit, its attorneys withdrew from the case, and the company never hired new counsel. As a result, a federal judge entered a default against the employer. The EEOC then asked for and received a judgment for the $118,000.
Have You Been the Victim of Pregnancy Discrimination?
Most pregnancy discrimination cases are not so open-and-shut. Employers often go to great lengths to fight any allegation that they treat pregnant employees differently. But the reality is that many employers still think that pregnant women are somehow less capable of doing certain types of jobs. This is not only an outdated and sexist attitude, it is also a clear violation of federal and New York employment discrimination laws.
From a legal standpoint, pregnancy is treated like any other temporary medical condition or disability. Employers must make “reasonable accommodation” for pregnant employees, such as granting leave or assigning them to lighter work duties. What the employer cannot do, as the case above illustrates, is revoke a job offer or promotion based on pregnancy.If you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination, you should not remain silent. An experienced New York employment law attorney can help you fight for your rights under the law. Contact the Law Offices of Mahir S. Nisar if you need to speak with an attorney today.