The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) hosted a public meeting February 15 to discuss pregnancy discrimination and caregiver issues — a likely sign of increased scrutiny by the EEOC over these types of claims against employers.
The EEOC called this public meeting as a result of problems that have arisen out of the “pregnancy discrimination act” and brought in a number of experts to testify about recent trends in discrimination against pregnant workers and workers with caregiving responsibilities.
In a noteworthy case that has brought the issues dealing with pregnancy leave to light, a Pennsylvania chiropractor has sued her former employer, alleging that she was discriminated against and terminated due to complications with her pregnancy. Her employer in turn has counter-sued for breach of contract.
The EEOC noted that although many of these claims are dismissed in summary judgment motions, this particular claim will be presented to a jury in May 2012. The employer is contesting the claim and one of the reasons given is that the employer, a small chiropractic firm, has less than 50 employees and claims that it does not have to abide by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
This case should be followed closely, as the EEOC has noted that issues regarding treatment of pregnant employees are prevalent in the workplace and discussions relative to resolving these issues are long overdue.
If you have questions about this case or about implementing preventative measures in your business to avoid claims of pregnancy discrimination, please contact Julie P. Apter (716.566.5458; firstname.lastname@example.org), Sean P. Beiter (716.566.5409; email@example.com), or another member of the Goldberg Segalla Labor and Employment Practice Group.