Under federal law, all employers are prohibited from treating a pregnant woman in an adverse or hostile manner as a result of a pregnancy. Further, if a woman develops some sort of health complications or condition as a result of the pregnancy, the woman must be treated with the same rights as any other disabled employee. This means that in many instances, either disability leave or unpaid leave needs to be made available to the woman. If an employer fails to do this, it could be grounds for a discrimination lawsuit.
Oprah Winfrey's OWN network is learning this lesson the hard way after a former employee has filed a lawsuit after happenings of a related nature. Reportedly, the woman was a well-praised and valued employee with a position that held a significant amount of responsibility. When the employee became pregnant, everything seemed to change.
The woman developed a pregnancy-related condition that necessitated a medical leave. While she was out, a temporary worker was brought in to absorb some of the workload left in the pregnant employee's absence. The woman says that when she went back to work, she saw her responsibilities diminished and she was further being left out of meetings and projects that previously she actively participated in.
Then when the woman had the baby and was again out of the office on maternity leave, her employer informed her that she was being subjected to layoffs, but that she could apply for another position. The position she applied for ultimately went to the temporary worker that was brought in to minimize the impact of the pregnancy employee's medical leave.
Accordingly, this woman feels that due to her pregnancy she was discriminated against even though she was an outstanding employee. She is seeking an unspecified amount of damages in the lawsuit she recently filed on the grounds of sex discrimination, retaliation and other related charges to the happenings detailed above.
Source: E! News, "Oprah Winfrey's OWN Sued for Sex Discrimination," Josh Grossberg, Feb. 4, 2013
- Our firm has experience assisting individuals in New York City seeking legal recourse following discrimination on various grounds. For more information, please refer to our New York wrongful termination page.