Employment discrimination involves more than just race, religion, or gender. Multiple studies have concluded that a full 80% of working women will become pregnant at some time during their working years. In today's work-driven world, most women continue working throughout their pregnancy. Taken together, these facts explain why our Panama City employment discrimination law firm takes pregnancy discrimination very seriously.
WJHG is following efforts by some state lawmakers to change Florida law to directly address the issue of pregnancy discrimination. Currently, Florida does not have a law protecting pregnant women in the workplace. While it is illegal to fire someone based on race, sex, and several other attributes, there is no specific prohibition against firing a woman due to pregnancy. Some lawmakers are working to change this, and proposals to protect pregnant women at work are moving through the law-making process.
Florida Democratic Senator Geraldine Thompson points to specific instances to show that pregnant women face discrimination in Florida's workplaces. One such case involved a woman who was fired from a restaurant job because her employer said she had become too large to work in the facility. Cases have made their way to Florida's courts, but the rulings have been inconsistent, prompting Thompson to call for clarifying legislation. Women's rights activists say legislation specifically prohibiting discrimination due to pregnancy is long overdue.
Activist Barbara DeVane notes that the issue looms particularly large for single women who rely on their income to support their families and raise healthy children. Opponents argue that pregnant women are already covered by laws against gender discrimination, citing a similar approach in federal law. Supporters note that federal law actually includes a very specific amendment adding pregnancy to the list of characteristics that cannot be used as a reason for an employment action.
At the time of WJHG's report, a bill prohibiting pregnancy discrimination has unanimously passed a Senate Committee. This week, the first committee to address the bill in the House passed the measure, with one member dissenting. Despite these successes, the bill may face an uphill battle in both the House and Senate.
While Florida law is in flux, federal law is quite clear. As discussed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that makes discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions illegal. Specifically, the Act (which covers employers with 15 or more employees) makes pregnancy discrimination a form of gender discrimination. If a woman can do the job, an employer cannot refuse to hire her (or decide to fire her) because she is expecting. If pregnancy's physical changes make it impossible for a woman to perform certain tasks, she must be treated akin to any "temporarily disabled" employee which can include providing light duty, alternative or modified responsibilities, or appropriate disability leave arrangements.
In addition to his personal injury expertise, Attorney Pittman serves the community as a Panama City employment discrimination lawyer. Attorney Pittman has experience representing wrongly-treated workers and getting them justice. If you believe you have been discriminated against at work due to pregnancy (or gender, race, religion, or other protected status), please call our office. You will schedule a meeting with our Panama City discrimination lawyer to discuss your situation and potentially applicable federal and state laws.
An important note: while we favor clarifying legislation making pregnancy discrimination explicitly illegal, several Florida judges have found pregnancy discrimination illegal under current state law. Unfortunately, others courts have disagreed, hence the need for clarification. We do believe in bringing state pregnancy discrimination claims under current law, but also believe a clearer prohibition is needed to best serve our working women.