Pregnancy Discrimination in Ohio

Our Columbus Ohio Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers represent employees all over Ohio in pregnancy discrimination cases and lawsuits.

Picture this: you work a full-time job, and you’ve recently discovered you are pregnant. You undoubtedly have a lot of questions: are you entitled to maternity leave in Ohio? Will you have a job to come back to when you return to work? And what about the potential for discrimination based on being pregnant or needing time off in Ohio? Your supervisor’s recent comments lead you to believe that the company is not happy about your need to take time off.

Your Ohio Employment Attorneys can answer each of these questions. We have represented employees throughout Ohio in pregnancy discrimination claims, and we’re here to help you protect your right to be free from discrimination related to pregnancy or childbirth. Reach out to us today to schedule a free consultation with an employment attorney.

Am I Entitled to Maternity Leave if I Become Pregnant?

Generally, there are no existing laws that mandate paid maternity leave for pregnant employees. However, some employers do offer some form of maternity leave to their employees. You should first consult with your HR Department to see if your employer offers maternity leave as part of its benefits program. If your employer does not offer any maternity leave programs, you may still take up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if your employer is covered by the FMLA in Ohio and you are eligible for FMLA protection. The FMLA also offers job protection, meaning you generally must be returned to your former position after you return from FMLA-qualifying maternity leave.

How Can I Prove I Have Been Discriminated Against Due to my Pregnancy?  

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ohio Labor Laws, employers may not discriminate against their employees based on their membership in a “protected class.” Protected classes include: race, color, national origin, sex, religion, and/or disability. Pregnancy discrimination is also included, because it is considered a subset of sex discrimination, since only women can become pregnant. To successfully assert a claim for pregnancy discrimination under Title VII, you must prove that:

  1. You are/were pregnant;
  2. You are qualified for your position;
  3. You suffered an adverse job action; and
  4. There is a causal connection between your pregnancy and the adverse job action.

The specific requirements for each of these elements are listed below.

How do I Prove That I’m Pregnant?

This element is usually pretty straight-forward, and it is established if you tell your supervisor and/or your HR department about your pregnancy. However, you can also establish a pregnancy discrimination claim based on your ability to become pregnant. This could occur, for example if a prospective employer tells you that you were not chosen for the position because you are female and could become pregnant at some point in the future.

How do I Prove That I’m Qualified for my Job?

You are qualified for your position if you can prove that you were performing at a level that met your employer’s legitimate expectations. Your qualifications are assessed prior to when you became pregnant, so any pregnancy-related work restrictions generally won’t hold you back from establishing this requirement. You can prove you are qualified for your job by showing (1) you have not been subjected to discipline, and/or (2) you have had a positive work performance history.

What is an Adverse Employment Action?

You must also prove you were subjected to an “adverse employment action” by your employer. Courts have found that the following employer actions are “adverse employment actions”: terminating (or constructively terminating) your employment, failing to promote you when a promotion is warranted, demoting you, significantly diminishing your job responsibilities, significantly increasing your job duties such that your job becomes impossible to perform, reducing your pay or benefits, and in some situations, transferring you to a less favorable or less prestigious job. A denial of a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) related to your pregnancy also counts as an adverse employment action.

How do I Establish a Causal Connection Between my Pregnancy and the Adverse Employment Action I Suffered?

Finally, you must prove there is a “causal connection” between your pregnancy and the adverse employment action you suffered. You can establish this “causal connection” in one of two ways:

First, you can prove this causal connection by showing that male and non-pregnant female employees were treated more favorably by your employer. You can do this in numerous ways. Has your supervisor made negative comments about your need for maternity leave or ability to keep up with your workload? Have you been subjected to excessive discipline or increased scrutiny over your work performance? Have other pregnant employees faced similar treatment in the past? These can all constitute evidence of disparate treatment. Moreover, you can also use the timeline of events to your advantage. For example, if you announce your pregnancy to your employer and then you are fired a week later, this quick turnaround time helps establish a causal connection between your pregnancy and your termination.

Second, you can also prove the causal connection element by showing that you were replaced by a male or non-pregnant female employee. However, this option is only available to you if you were terminated, and only if your employer knew about your pregnancy before you were fired.

The birth of a child should be a celebration, not a source of stress based on what might happen to your job. If you believe you’ve been discriminated against due to your pregnancy, contact your Ohio Discrimination Attorney today for a free consultation.

For information regarding workplace discrimination and employee rights see our Labor Law FAQs.

Our pregnancy discrimination lawyers represent employees all over Ohio, including Columbus, Toledo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton and everywhere in between.  Our central location in Columbus, Ohio makes it easy and convenient to represent employees everywhere in Ohio.  Call us today!

Related Ohio Labor Laws:

Hostile Work Environment

Sexual Harassment