Expecting a baby? While there's a lot to consider when growing another person, the last thing you should have to worry about is what your employer thinks of your plans to expand your family. Sadly, pregnancy discrimination in employment is far from uncommon, and poor treatment—or even termination—is a serious concern for many pregnant workers.
Fortunately, both state and federal laws prohibit most employers from discriminating against or firing employees solely because they're pregnant.
If you've been subjected to this type of unlawful conduct in the workplace, you may be entitled to damages. Here's what you should know about West Virginia pregnancy discrimination cases, including how our caring and capable employment attorneys can help you recover fair losses and hold your employer accountable.
Recognizing Pregnancy Discrimination in Employment
Having your job threatened or being fired because you're pregnant are obvious examples of pregnancy discrimination. However, this type of discrimination isn't always so blatant or dramatic. It can be any negative employment action taken in response to a worker's pregnancy (or related medical condition). More subtle forms of pregnancy discrimination may include:
- Demoting pregnant workers or reducing their hours
- Treating pregnant workers differently than other employees with temporary disabilities
- Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers
- Forcing pregnant employees to work unfavorable hours, positions, or shifts
- Verbally or physically harassing workers for being pregnant
- Forcing pregnant employees to quit or take time off
Facing discrimination at work because you're pregnant can leave you feeling isolated and without options. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Multiple laws exist to protect pregnant employees from this type of treatment. Here are just a few of the legal protections that may apply in a pregnancy discrimination case.
- West Virginia Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act (PWFA) – Passed in 2014, the law explicitly requires employers with 12 or more employees to accommodate pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions just as they accommodate other temporary disabilities.
- West Virginia Human Rights Act (WVHRA) – This law prohibits sex discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination, in employment practices; like the PWFA, it also applies to companies with 12 or more workers.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Applicable to employers with 15 or more employees, this landmark federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) – Passed in 1978 as an amendment to Title VII, this federal law makes it illegal for employers to treat workers unfairly because they're pregnant.
How an Attorney Can Help If You're Facing Pregnancy Discrimination
In most cases, the law protects you from being fired for being pregnant and gives you the right to keep working throughout your pregnancy, as long as you can still do your job. Though you have a right to reasonable accommodations, you may need a skilled attorney to help you fight for them. Thankfully, at Bailess Law Firm, our exceptional team of employment lawyers can help you gather the evidence needed to prove your discrimination claim. This may include direct evidence, such as statements admitting discriminatory intent, or supporting evidence involving questionable timing or reasons for your firing, disparate treatment of other temporarily disabled employees, or unusual termination procedures.
What You Could Recover From a Successful Pregnancy Discrimination Claim
Depending on what facts and evidence are available in your case, our accomplished attorneys may be able to help you recover wide-ranging economic and non-economic damages. These may include reinstatement, back pay, front pay, other compensatory damages, and emotional distress damages. If your employer's conduct was particularly egregious, you may also be entitled to punitive damages. Not sure which types of damages may apply to your claim? We can help.
Schedule a Consultation
If you're facing pregnancy discrimination on the job or have been fired for being pregnant, there's far too much at stake to go it alone. Our understanding and compassionate team of West Virginia employment attorneys can help you understand your rights and explore your options for recovery. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial review of your case.