In our prior posts, we have highlighted the importance of pregnant employees and job seekers to know their rights in the workplace. While the nation’s economy steadily improves and more jobs become available, pregnant employees may still be subject to discrimination and other forms of wrongful treatment in the workplace.
A story of how a pregnant employee working for Chipotle exemplifies this problem. According to an employmentlawdaily.com report, the woman was reportedly fired after attending a prenatal appointment against her manager’s wishes.
The woman told her supervisor about the appointment prior to when it was scheduled, and reportedly reached an agreement with him to work additional hours to make up for the time she missed. Also, before scheduling the appointment, the woman complained about how the manager treated her differently after learning about her pregnancy. Basically, the manager stopped praising the employee’s work and instituted discriminatory policies (such as those forbidding her from going to the bathroom.
Ultimately, the manager fired her upon her return from her pregnancy appointment, even doing so in front of other employees and customers.
The woman brought suit in federal district court, claiming that she was discriminated against in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act as well as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. A jury heard the case and awarded her $50,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.
Indeed, not every pregnancy discrimination case will yield these damages. However, it is a stark reminder of an employee’s rights in the workplace; especially when the employee is pregnant.