Pregnancy Discrimination Widespread in Corporate America

June 19, 2018 – Despite efforts by some companies to accommodate the needs of their pregnant employees, pregnancy discrimination and related retaliation in corporate American persists. A recent New York Times article reported that many of the country’s largest companies continue to penalize pregnant employees. These women are often prevented from advancing, demoted or terminated for complaining. In larger companies, discrimination can be more subtle. Pregnant employees and new mothers may be denied key projects, shunned by executives, viewed as less committed or excluded from meetings and company events.

But many women are asserting their rights. In recent years, women at some of the largest corporations, including AT&T, Merck, Novartis and Walmart, have sued their employers with allegations of pregnancy discrimination, failing to accommodate and retaliation—from claims that companies are treating them differently from non-pregnant employees to paying them less and failing to promote them. These lawsuits have not only resulted in large settlements in favor of employees, but, as in the case of Walmart, they have led to changes in company policies on how to accommodate pregnant employees.

How am I protected from pregnancy discrimination?

Both Minnesota and federal laws protect women from being discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy. Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) and the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it is unlawful pregnancy discrimination for a woman to be denied a job, a promotion or other benefits because of pregnancy, childbirth or disabilities related to pregnancy or childbirth. It is also unlawful for an employer to demote or discharge an employee for taking medical leave relating to a pregnancy. Further, Minnesota Statute 181.9414 requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee for health conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against an employee for voicing a complaint about discrimination or asserting their pregnancy-related employment rights.

When do I need to tell my employer I am pregnant?

You do not need to inform a potential employer during an interview that you are pregnant. Any interviewer who inquired about a potential pregnancy or an intent to become pregnant is likely in violation of the law. In general, you are not required to disclose your pregnancy to an employer. However, if you would like to take advantage of any maternity benefits offered by your employer, you need to follow the notice requirements set forth by your employer. Employers must follow standard notice requirements for any pregnancy or parental leave request.

Contact Our Minnesota Employment Lawyers

Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP is committed to protecting the rights of women facing pregnancy discrimination, retaliation and violations of Minnesota parental leave laws. If you believe your rights have been violated, or for more information about your pregnancy rights, contact our Minneapolis attorneys by clicking here or calling us at 612-252-3570.

For more on pregnancy discrimination, please read the following articles: