Pregnancy, Parental Leave and Retaliation

While discovering you are pregnant can be a time of joy, it can also be a significant source of stress if you are worried about retaliation in the workplace. Retaliation could be as subtle as excluding you from meetings or important decisions or worse, demotion, decreased pay, or even termination. Pregnant women, new mothers, as well as fathers, have significant protections under Minnesota state and federal laws. In the event of discrimination or retaliation for a pregnancy or parental leave, you do have rights and can take legal action against your employer.

When do I need to tell my employer I am pregnant?
You do not need to inform a potential employer during an interview, and, 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.

Am I entitled to maternity leave?
Under the Minnesota Pregnancy and Parental Leave Act, covered employers are required to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Your employer may agree to additional leave time, but you are not entitled to more than 12 weeks under the law. Any employee who has performed services for hire for at least 12 months and for at least half time preceding request for leave is entitled.

Do I get to keep my job?
Yes. If you take 12 weeks of unpaid leave, you are entitled to return to your position or one with comparable duties, hours and pay. Additionally, you are entitled to the exact same benefits and seniority you had prior to taking leave. Your employer cannot retaliate against you for taking parental leave. Any reduction in hours, demotion, or change in duties after parental leave could be considered retaliation.

What is pregnancy discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination can take a number of forms and can happen in any industry, whether you are in a minimum wage position or a high-paid executive. Examples of pregnancy discrimination include failing to hire or promote, demotion, or firing a woman after discovering she is pregnant. It is also illegal for employers to discharge a worker for taking medical leave related to a pregnancy. You may have suffered discrimination if you have suffered a reduction in hours or assignments or retaliation if you voiced a complaint.

How can I prove my case?
Proving discrimination is not always easy, so it is important to document any evidence of less favorable treatment as soon as possible. Write down the date along with any commentary, exchanges, and other instances of discrimination. Save emails, paper documentation, voicemails, text messages and any other forms of communication that could support your claim.

What are my options for relief?
If you have suffered from pregnancy discrimination, you may want to protect your job and benefits, or you may just want a way out with some monetary relief. Pregnancy discrimination lawsuits may result in significant compensation and payout depending on your case. An experienced attorney can review the personal and financial losses you have suffered related to your claim and help you protect your rights and “make you whole” again.

Pregnancy discrimination continues to be prevalent in the workplace, and, despite legal protections, employers continue to deny promotions, rescind job offers, or retaliate against women after they become pregnant. It has been over 35 years since Congress enacted protections for pregnant women under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, yet the number of complaints filed with the EEOC remains high. It is important that women who have suffered discrimination or retaliation come forward.

Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP is currently investigating cases related to pregnancy discrimination and retaliation in Minnesota. For more information about your rights, please call 612-252-3570. Our Minneapolis, Minnesota attorneys are prepared to investigate your claim, assess personal and financial damages, and aggressively pursue the full remedies you are entitled to.