Despite federal, state, and local protections, discrimination based on pregnancy and childbirth is still rampant. Pregnancy discrimination affects employees from all sectors of the workforce, including high-performing women at technology companies, finance, law firms, universities, and other corporate settings. Studies show that after pregnancy, the gender gap in pay and promotions grows dramatically.
Sometimes the discrimination is overt, with managers displaying hostility towards pregnancy or mothers, expressing that pregnant workers and mothers are less capable and committed than other workers, or declaring a preference for employees that are not pregnant or do not have caregiving obligations. In other instances, employers do not announce their prejudices, but the timing of their decisions make clear that they are discriminating, such as when an employee’s announcement that she is pregnant is followed by a negative performance review, the denial of a promotion or raise, or a demotion or termination.
Protections for workers extend to the postpartum period. For example, it is illegal under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and many state and local laws (including the New York City Human Rights Law, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, and the D.C. Human Rights Law) for employers to terminate or otherwise treat employees unfavorably because they have had a child or because they have taken parental leave. In addition, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and many state and local laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees for pumping in the workplace.
Sanford Heisler Sharp’s discrimination and harassment attorneys have extensive experience combatting pregnancy discrimination. We are passionate about removing barriers for pregnant employees and parents in the workplace. At Sanford Heisler Sharp, we tenaciously advocate on behalf of our clients and challenge employers’ discriminatory practices. We have litigated groundbreaking pregnancy discrimination class actions and negotiated confidential resolutions for numerous individuals. Our successful pregnancy discrimination settlements include:
- Securing a $6.2 million settlement in a pregnancy and gender discrimination class action on behalf of thousands of female sales representatives who worked at Merck
- Securing a $4 million settlement in a pregnancy and gender discrimination class action against Forest Laboratories, Inc., and Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
- Securing a 7-figure settlement for a female employee who was denied pregnancy accommodations and experienced medical complications during her pregnancy
- Securing a settlement worth multiple years of pay for a female lawyer who was denied work and advancement opportunities after she returned from maternity leave
- Securing a 6-figure settlement on behalf of a female employee in the financial services industry who was denied pregnancy accommodations and terminated while on parental leave
- Securing a 6-figure settlement on behalf of a female employee who was subjected to hostile treatment when she sought to pump in the workplace and terminated after she complained
To learn about how Sanford Heisler Sharp could help you in asserting your right to be free from pregnancy discrimination, reach out to our Discrimination and Harassment Practice Group.