Pregnancy Discrimination Claims
What is pregnancy discrimination and does Ohio law cover it?
Under Ohio Law, it is an unlawful for your employer to discriminate against you because of your sex. This includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. Women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions must be treated the same for all employment-related purposes as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.
I think I am being impacted or treated differently because of my pregnancy. How do I prove it?
In order to meet the elements of a pregnancy discrimination case, you must demonstrate:
How do I show that a non-pregnant employee similar in ability or inability to work was treated differently?
You must show that non-pregnant employees who were similarly situated were granted more favorable treatment by your employer. You should note, however, that the law does not require preferential treatment for pregnant employees. Rather, it mandates that employers treat pregnant employees the same as nonpregnant employees who are similarly situated with respect to their ability to work.
You do not have to prove that a man replaced you in order to meet this requirement.
Can my employer fire me or refuse to hire me because I may become pregnant?
No. Ohio law (which law) provides that is unlawful to discharge an employee or refuse to hire because of sex. The term 'because of sex' includes pregnancy.
Can I ask my employer to make accommodations for me on account of my pregnancy?
Yes. However, Ohio courts have recognized that an employer need not accommodate pregnant women to the extent that such accommodation amounts to preferential treatment.
How long can I go on leave because of pregnancy?
The amount of time you are allowed to take depends on your employer's leave policy. However, Ohio law states that your employer must include childbearing as a suitable reason for a leave of absence. Additionally, your employer must allow you a "reasonable period of time" for the pregnancy leave.
Even if your employer does not have a leave policy, childbearing is considered a suitable justification for leave of absence for a reasonable period of time. Under Ohio law, an employer is not required to have a policy allowing unlimited maternity leave. An employer is only required to have a "reasonably adequate policy of maternity leave which should be applied on the same terms and conditions as for other disabilities."
Under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), employers are required to give you up to 12 weeks of leave if you have worked for your employer for 12 months and for atleast 1,250 hours. However, the FMLA only applies to employers who employ more than 50 employees. For more information about the FMLA, please see the "Family Medical Leave Act" under the "Federal Laws" section.
What happens to my job while I am on pregnancy leave?
Your employer may choose to replace you while you are away on leave. However, once you return to work after maternity leave, the employer must reinstate you the same way anyone else would be reinstated when returning from disability leave.
Can my employer deny me pregnancy leave?
If you are denied maternity leave, this will be considered a termination because of pregnancy. In other words, by denying you pregnancy leave, your employer is in violation of the Ohio law that prohibits discharge based on sex.
I've been missing a lot of work due to prenatal check-ups or pregnancy-related complications; can my employer fire me for this?
Courts have held that employers are permitted to fire employees who are in violation of the company's leave of absence policies (i.e. taking more time than the company allows). Courts have held that this action does not fall under the protection of Ohio's discriminatory employment prohibitions.An employer does not need to have a policy allowing unlimited maternity leave. However, your employer is required to have a reasonably adequate maternity leave policy, which is applied on the same terms and conditions as for other disabilities.
Is my employer required to pay me while I am on pregnancy leave?
If you are covered by the Family Medical Leave Act, and thus entitled to mandatory leave, employers are only required to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), employers are required to give you up to 12 weeks of upaid leave if you have worked for your employer for 12 months and for atleast 1,250 hours. However, the FMLA only applies to employers who employ more than 50 employees. For more information about the FMLA, please see the Family Medical Leave Act Section.
Can my employer keep me from working in certain areas or doing certain tasks because of health and safety concerns?
The pregnancy discrimination law does not require your employer to overlook the work restrictions of pregnant women unless the employer overlooks the comparable work restrictions of other employees.
While your employer cannot prevent you from working in an environment that may be hazardous to a fetus, your employer may temporarily transfer you, at your request, for the protection of your fetus.
Does my employer's health insurance have to cover the medical costs of my pregnancy?
Employment policies involving company-sponsored sickness and accident insurance plans are applied to pregnancy and childbirth on the same terms and conditions as they are applied to other temporary leaves of absence of the same classification.
I just returned from maternity leave and need to take extra breaks in order to pump milk, but my supervisor won't allow me to take more than 2 breaks a day. Can I file a claim?
Courts have rejected claims of discrimination on the basis of sex when women claim that they were not granted sufficient leave to breast-feed their infants. An employer is allowed to exclude breast-feeding from the circumstances for which it will grant personal leave, even though breast-feeding is a uniquely female attribute.
I was pregnant but had an abortion. Does my health insurance cover this?
No employer is required to pay for health insurance benefits for abortion, except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or except where medical complications have arisen from the abortion.
What could my employer do to deny my allegations, and how do I respond to their denials?
After you have established the elements of sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, your employer has the duty to articulate a nondiscriminatory reason for your discharge. A legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for discharge is basically any reason that the employer has for discharging you that is not in violation of the statute. Typically, it is relatively easy for the employer to give a non-discriminatory reason for the discharge. Examples include insubordination at work or a poor performance evaluation.
If your employer offers a reason for discharge, you must then show that the reason given by your employer was mere pretext in order to win her case. Pretext is a false, non-discriminatory reason given to cover the real, discriminatory reason for the adverse action. You can show pretext by showing that the reason given is not supported by the evidence, the reason given did not actually motivate the discharge, or that the reason given was insufficient to warrant the discharge.
If your employer successfully articulates a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason, you are then required to prove that your employer's reasons are a pretext for impermissible discrimination. In other words, you must show that the "legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason" articulated by your employer is a guise for unlawful discrimination.
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