If you’re like many people, you’re wondering whether you can sue your employer for firing you while you’re pregnant – and the answer isn’t as simple as you may think. This guide explains.
Can You Sue Your Employer for Firing You While Pregnant?
In some cases, you can sue your employer for firing you while you’re pregnant. However, you must be able to show that your employer fired you because you’re pregnant (or because you’re experiencing a pregnancy- or nursing-related medical condition).
There’s no law that says an employer can’t fire you when you’re pregnant. For example, if you blow off work and don’t bother showing up and your employer fires you for not coming in, your employer isn’t going to get into trouble for firing you just because you happen to be pregnant at the time. Your employer can fire you at any time, for any reason not related to discrimination (unless you have an employment contract that says otherwise, of course).
However, if your employer says to you, “I’m going to fire you because you’re pregnant, and I don’t want a pregnant person waiting tables in my restaurant,” you should contact an attorney immediately, because that’s a pretty clear-cut case of pregnancy discrimination.
Related: Pregnancy discrimination laws in California
A Word on Pregnancy Discrimination
Pregnancy discrimination doesn’t only occur when an employee is fired for being pregnant. It can occur when an employer:
- Denies a job to a pregnant applicant
- Demotes a pregnant employee
- Refuses to give an employee their job back (or a similar job) when the employee returns from maternity leave
- Treats a pregnant employee differently from the way it treats other employees who are on temporary disability
- Failing to give a pregnant person’s spouse (who is an employee) health insurance coverage for the pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, but only if the employee already has comprehensive health insurance coverage through the same company plan
It’s important to note that these things aren’t always considered pregnancy discrimination. They’re only considered pregnancy discrimination if the cause is the pregnancy or pregnancy related conditions.
Related: Does FMLA apply to me?
How Can You Sue Your Employer for Firing You While Pregnant?
Generally, you have to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if you intend to sue your employer for firing you while pregnant. Your Glendale employment attorney can help you with this part of the process. Most people must file an EEOC complaint before filing a lawsuit.
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission will send a copy of your complaint to your employer. Often, the EEOC launches an investigation after you make a complaint. In some cases, the EEOC tries to find out whether mediation is a better option than filing a lawsuit is.
When the EEOC finishes processing your claim, it may issue you a “right to sue” letter. (In rare cases, the agency plans to sue on a complainant’s behalf.)
Related: What is sex discrimination?
Talking to an Employment Attorney About Being Fired While Pregnant
If you were fired while you were pregnant and you believe that your employer fired you because you were pregnant or had a pregnancy-related condition, you should speak to an attorney about your situation. Your attorney will ask you questions, including why you believe your employer fired you, and lay out your options for moving forward.
If you can’t show that your employer fired you because you’re pregnant, you may not have a case. Generally, employment attorneys only take on cases that they’re confident they can win; no lawyer wants to disappoint their clients.
It’s very important that you provide your attorney with any documentation you have that may support your claim. You should also tell your attorney about any incidents that may have constituted pregnancy discrimination – even if they don’t relate to your case (such as if your employer has a habit of firing pregnant employees or you overheard a supervisor talking about discriminatory practices the employer has engaged in before).
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Being Fired While Pregnant?
We may be able to help you if you were fired because you are (or were) pregnant. Call our office at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below to set up your free consultation with an experienced, knowledgeable and caring attorney now.