Nonprofit to pay $75,000 for having a “no pregnancy in the workplace” policy
United Bible Fellowship Ministries, a nonprofit organization that provides housing for individuals with disabilities, will pay $75,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on the behalf of an employee who was fired after she became pregnant. According to the suit, United Bible Fellowship Ministries had a “no pregnancy in the workplace policy,” firing employees who became pregnant and refusing to hire job applicants who were pregnant. The organization claimed that its policies were in place to guarantee the safety of pregnant employees, their unborn babies, and clients.
Its argument did not fare well in court. A U.S. District Court Judge found that the organization had “recklessly” violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and job applicants on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, and pregnancy. According to the court, United Bible Fellowship Ministries was unable to demonstrate that all pregnant women would be unable to perform their jobs safely. Johnson was awarded $25,000 in back pay and overtime, and $50,000 for her mental and emotional suffering.
Employers cannot force pregnant employees to leave their jobs for insignificant reasons
The law states that an employer cannot force a pregnant employee to leave her job, so long as she can perform the basic components of the job. This means that an employer cannot fire a pregnant worker because she cannot complete a minor portion of her job. If, for example, a small portion of the worker’s day involves lifting heavy boxes, the employer cannot fire her for failing to do so while she is pregnant.
Sometimes, the employee’s ability to perform her job may rest on reasonable accommodations such as more frequent bathroom breaks, longer periods of rest, footstools, and limits on heavy lifting. The New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (NYC PWFA), in conjunction with the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women. The only situation where an employer is not required to make the accommodation is if it can prove that doing so would place an “undue hardship” upon the business. Some of the factors that are taken into account when making an assessment of “undue hardship” are the business’s resources and the cost of the accommodation. If you are a pregnant worker and are unsure as to whether your employer has the grounds to refuse to make an accommodation, contact the Akin Law Group as soon as possible for advice.
The lawyers at the Akin Law Group are ready to help
If you have been treated unfairly at work because you are pregnant, you may be able to file a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against your employer. Do not let fear of retaliation prevent you from speaking out: employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who participate in a protected activity such as filing a discrimination lawsuit. Contact the Akin Law Group as soon as possible at 866.685.5163 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced employment lawyer.