Pregnancy Discrimination Can Result in Substantial Verdicts
Decades ago, many employers regularly discriminated against women who were pregnant or who may have become pregnant, as it was wrongfully expected that pregnancy and childbirth would interfere with their work. However, at the time, there was little the employees could do as there were few protections for pregnant women in the workplace. In 1978, the U.S. Congress amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include specific rights for women against discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions.
Though the Pregnancy Discrimination Act mandated that unlawful sex discrimination included pregnancy and that women have the right to be free of harassment, adverse employment actions, and other discriminatory behavior due to their pregnancy and childbirth. Unfortunately, despite this law, discrimination based on pregnancy continues to exist in workplaces across the United States. A recent case demonstrates not only the ways discrimination can manifest but also the rights of victims of such discrimination to recover.
No Water or Bathroom Breaks
In 2011, a 31-year-old employee of fast-casual chain Chipotle Mexican Grill had received only favorable reviews before she informed her supervisor that she was pregnant. After that time, her supervisor reacted in a variety of discriminatory and harassing ways, including the following:
- Limited the amount of water she could drink;
- Restricted her from taking routine breaks that other employees could take;
- Required her to publicly announce the need for a bathroom break, which no other employees were required to do;
- Required her to wait for permission to take a bathroom break, which was not required of non-pregnant employees;
- Refused to allow her to leave work early for a prenatal appointment and then, when she did, terminated her employment in 2012.
After her termination, the employee filed a lawsuit against Chipotle claiming she suffered harm from unlawful pregnancy discrimination. At trial, a jury found in the employee’s favor and awarded her $50,000 in monetary damages, as well as an additional $500,000 for punitive damages. A Chipotle representative said that the company had no plans to file an appeal.
The above case is only one of many examples of how serious the legal system takes pregnancy discrimination and other forms of unlawful discrimination and/or harassment. Anyone who thinks his or her employer has treated them wrongly should not hesitate to discuss a possible case with a lawyer.
Discuss Your Situation With a Dedicated Florida Employment Lawyer
If you believe that your employer has discriminated against you or harassed you based on your pregnancy, childbirth, or sex, you likely have the legal right to seek compensation for any harm you suffered. At the law office of employment attorney Robert S. Norell, we know it is unacceptable for any employer to discriminate against employees because of their pregnancy or familial choices and we are committed to standing up for the rights of pregnant employees throughout Florida. If you think that you may have been a victim of discrimination, please call our office at 800-796-0849 for a free consultation today.