Hostile Work Environment Based on Pregnancy
While expectant parents may be excited about the arrival of a new baby, their employers and co-workers may be thinking about other things, such as an increased work load while the new parent is on leave. Unfortunately, these concerns are sometimes taken out on the pregnant employee in the form of harassment or discrimination. Harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is illegal under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act when it rises to the level of a hostile work environment or results in an adverse employment decision. The Atlanta pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Mays & Kerr have devoted their practice to employment law. We understand the key issues surrounding discrimination cases. If you have a legal issue related to a hostile work environment based on pregnancy, let us help you.Pursuing a Georgia Hostile Work Environment Claim
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA”) amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with regard to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. This law clarified the language in the Civil Rights Act that prohibits discrimination in compensation, terms, or conditions or privileges of employment based on sex. The PDA left no doubt that harassing pregnant employees is a form of gender discrimination.
A broad range of unwelcome conduct can constitute illegal harassment. Unwelcome conduct is unlawful when it is so severe or pervasive that it leads to an intimidating, hostile, or abusive work environment. Such conduct is also unlawful when continued employment is conditioned on enduring the offensive conduct. While stray comments or jokes usually are not illegal, a fact-specific investigation is necessary to place the behavior in its context.
Although pregnancy-based harassment may come from the employee’s supervisor, it may also be committed by a co-worker or even a customer. Pregnancy-based sexual harassment can be committed by men, women, or both. Unwelcome conduct may still be harassment if it comes from a woman, even if she is also a mother who has experienced pregnancy herself. Also, a discrimination lawsuit may be filed by anyone affected by the harassment, not just its target.
Harassment may include inappropriate comments about the employee’s body or physical condition, questions or comments about the employee’s sexual activity or use of birth control, comments about the employee’s work performance after becoming pregnant, or insinuations that the employee should take leave or will not return to work. It is important to remember that discrimination is prohibited not just when based on pregnancy itself, but also on childbirth and related medical conditions. Thus, harassment based on miscarriage, abortion, or breastfeeding is also prohibited under the law.
Remedies available in pregnancy-based hostile work environment cases vary depending on the facts of the case. The possible remedies are similar to those available in other types of discrimination cases and include injunctions, reinstatement, back pay, front pay, and compensatory and punitive damages.
An employee who may have been the victim of a pregnancy-based hostile work environment must act quickly. To pursue a claim under the PDA and the Civil Rights Act, a charge must first be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of when the discrimination happened.Consult Knowledgeable Atlanta Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers
It is unfortunate but not uncommon that co-workers and employers are not supportive of an employee going through pregnancy. If you have been harassed at your job because you are expecting a child, the gender discrimination attorneys at Mays & Kerr can advise you on how to protect your rights in an Atlanta workplace. Call us at 1-877-986-5529 or contact us online to start a conversation.