Pregnant workers’ employee rights promoted through court ruling
We know that racial and gender-based discrimination is illegal in the workplace, but what about discrimination against pregnant workers? A recent ruling from the Florida State Supreme Court has determined that pregnancy discrimination falls under the employee rights provisions that protect workers from sex discrimination. That means that a Florida woman will be allowed to continue a lawsuit she brought against her employer, who refused to offer her equal employee benefits after she became pregnant.
The decision brings Florida into compliance with the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which is a piece of federal legislation. That act specifically prohibits discrimination against workers who are pregnant. Further, pregnancy discrimination is labeled as a form of sex discrimination in the language of that law.
The woman in this case said she was refused extra work shifts at her real estate development firm after she became pregnant. Further, the company refused to add her back to the work schedule after she took her legally protected maternity leave. A lower court had dismissed the woman’s suit after determining that pregnancy was not covered under the Florida Civil Rights Act.
New federal mandates may be on the way to provide even more employee benefits for pregnant workers. The pending Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would include legal provisions requiring pregnant workers to receive the same accommodations as an employee who is suffering from any kind of temporary physical limitation. Employers would also be prohibited from forcing their pregnant workers to take unnecessary unpaid leave, even though they are often able to work.
Pregnant workers deserve the same respect, consideration and legal protection as any other employees in Florida. The high court’s decision will bolster protection for these women. Pregnant workers will now be better protected from illegal workplace discrimination, thanks to the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling.
Source: Ms. Magazine, “Florida Supreme Court Recognizes Anti-Discrimination Protections for Pregnant Workers” No author given, Apr. 22, 2014