Category Archives: Pregnancy Discrimination

Quirky Question #266: What’s up with Pregnancy Discrimination?

Question: Over the summer, we heard a lot about new guidance on pregnancy discrimination. What do we need to know to ensure we are complying with local, state, and federal laws on pregnancy discrimination?

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Supreme Court decides Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 575 U.S. ___ (2015)

The Supreme Court of the United States recently issued its decision in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc.  Vacating and remanding the Fourth Circuit’s decision, the Court concluded that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) “requires courts to consider the extent to which an employer’s policy treats pregnant workers less favorably than it treats nonpregnant workers similar in their ability or inability to work” and that there was a genuine dispute regarding “whether UPS provided more favorable treatment to at least some employees whose situation cannot reasonably be distinguished from Young’s.”  Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 575 U.S. ___ (2015).

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Quirky Question #205, Pregnancy CA, Washington and Utah

Question:

We have employees in California, Washington and Utah where I understand there may be separate statutes protecting pregnancy disability leave and requiring up to sixteen (16) weeks of protected leave (as opposed to twelve (12) under FMLA).  We terminated an employee in California for not returning after her sixteen (16) week leave and she is threatening to sue.  Aren’t we on safe ground since we gave her the full amount (sixteen (16) weeks) of leave? Answer→

Quirky Question # 193: Pregnancy Complications and the FMLA, PDA and ADA

Question:

An employee experienced complications with her pregnancy toward the end of her second trimester.  As a result of these complications, her physician placed her on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy.  If she carries the baby to term, this employee will exhaust her Family and Medical Leave Act leave by the time of the birth.  Are we required to give the employee additional leave after the baby is born? Answer→

Pregnancy Discrimination, Quirky Question # 137

Quirky Question # 137:

Our company recently hired a woman to manage our clean room.  This job is critical to our business and we spent a great deal of time finding someone who we thought would be the right person for bringing a new product to market on a critical time path.  In addition to supervising the employees in the room, she is also required to work alongside them.  Some of what she is required to do involves heavy lifting, and certain steps in the process involve potentially toxic chemicals.  Imagine our dismay when she announced only two weeks into the job that she was three months pregnant.  She didn’t say anything about this during the interview.  We are worried about our legal exposure if she is injured, but also the project may be negatively impacted if she is gone for an extended period of time, and who knows if she’ll come back once the baby is born.  She is an at-will employee.  Can’t we just fire her now before we invest any more time in training her? Answer→

Joint Employer Liability, Quirky Question # 70

Quirky Question # 70:

Our company frequently hires workers through employment placement agencies – some on a temporary basis, others for more long-term assignments.  The placement company pays them and withholds employment taxes on their behalf.  We sign contacts saying that the workers are independent contractors and we are not their employer.  We recently terminated one of the workers who was pregnant and she is threatening to sue us as well as the employment agency.  Should we be concerned about potential liability under California law? Answer→

Termination for Infertility Treatments, Quirky Question # 53

Quirky Question # 53:

I read with interest your Quirky Question # 46, regarding the issue of whether an employer can fire an employee for having an abortion.  I have a slightly different inquiry.  Could we fire an employee because of her infertility treatments?  I ask because we need to reduce our workforce slightly and one of the employees we are considering has been recently involved in in vitro fertility treatments.  She’s missed quite a bit of work and it seems likely that she will miss more.  Given that fact, we’d rather retain other employees in comparable positions.

Since both men and women alike may suffer from infertility, our decision is not based on sex.  Any thoughts? Answer→

Firing An Employee for Having an Abortion, Quirky Question # 46

Quirky Question # 46:

We are a privately held company that runs a large software sales organization.  The family that started our company and that still dominates its executive ranks has conservative values.  Among those issues about which the owners feel strongly is the abortion issue.  They do not believe that women should have abortions under any circumstances.

One of our employees who was pregnant recently learned that there were serious problems with her unborn child.  Although her own life would not have been in jeopardy had she carried the child to term, her physicians recommended that she terminate the pregnancy.  She and her husband agonized over this decision but decided to follow the medical recommendations.

I am the HR Director and I have now been instructed to terminate our employee’s employment.  No explanation has been offered for why the company wants to discharge her.  I do know, however, that she has not previously had any performance problems.  To the contrary, she always has been highly regarded, a fact that is reflected in her glowing annual performance appraisals.  Moreover, the discharge decision is not being motivated by any economic downturn.  Our company is exceeding our year’s financial goals and no other employees are being laid off.

My instincts tell me the directive I have received is motivated by the fact that our employee decided to have an abortion, though no one specifically provided that explanation to me.  Nevertheless, this directive just does not sit well with me.  If I terminate her employment when she returns from the leave associated with the medical procedure and the funeral of her child, will I be exposing the company to risk? Answer→