If you’re like many expectant mothers, you’re wondering whether you can be fired for being pregnant – and the answer is no. Under most circumstances, the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibit employers from firing you because you’re pregnant or firing you for pregnancy-related conditions. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be fired during pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know.
Can You Be Fired for Being Pregnant?
Although your employer cannot fire you or subject you to adverse employment decisions simply because you’re pregnant, pregnancy isn’t a “golden ticket” at work. In order to have a successful wrongful termination case, you would have to prove that your pregnancy was the reason your employer took an adverse action against you. You still have to perform your job (with reasonable accommodations, of course), and you’re still subject to performance reviews that rate you on the quality of your work and contributions to the company.
What is Pregnancy Discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination is a type of sex discrimination, and it occurs when an employer treats you (either as an applicant or an employee) differently based on pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions. A person can experience pregnancy discrimination at any point during a pregnancy or after child birth, as well as at any point of an employment relationship – from hiring through the termination of a job.
How Can You Prove Pregnancy Discrimination if You’re Fired for Being Pregnant?
If you’re fired for being pregnant and end up opening a discrimination case, you and your attorney will have to prove that you were treated differently because of pregnancy or a related condition. In some cases, there’s direct evidence. For example, if a manager comes right out and says, “We can’t hire you because you’re pregnant, and we don’t want a pregnant woman working at the front desk,” that’s a pretty clear-cut case of being fired for being pregnant.
However, in many cases, the evidence is only circumstantial. That means your attorney will have to prove that the facts of your case, taken together, make it very likely that your employer discriminated against you. Things that can come together to prove pregnancy discrimination might include:
- The employer acting outside the norm. If your employer fires you for “performance problems” right before your due date, for example, when other workers have been warned about their own performance problems without being fired – or if you don’t have any performance problems – your attorney may be able to show that your termination had to do with pregnancy discrimination.
- Odd timing. If your employer fires you as soon as it becomes public knowledge that you’re pregnant, you’re fired just before you’re supposed to take pregnancy leave, or you’re fired after meeting the CEO when you’re obviously pregnant, a jury may believe that the timing is odd or suspicious.
- Made-up reasoning. If your employer passes you over for promotion in favor of someone else when you’re the most qualified person for the job, it could be a pretense because you’re pregnant. Likewise, if your boss fires you by saying the company needs someone with certain credentials, the person they hire to replace you should have those credentials – and if the new hire doesn’t have those credentials, your employer may have made up a reason to let you go. You may have simply been fired for being pregnant.
- Unequal – or equal – treatment. If you’re treated differently than other employees are, that could be a sign of pregnancy discrimination. Likewise, if all the other women in your office have been fired after becoming pregnant or having a baby, and now you’re unemployed too, that could be a sign that your employer has a pattern of discrimination.
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Pregnancy Discrimination?
If you’ve been discriminated against due to pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 818-230-8380 to talk to an attorney about your situation – if you’ve been discriminated against, you could be entitled to compensation.