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Can You Be Demoted at Work During a Pregnancy?


When pregnant employee informs their employer that they are pregnant, employers are expected to provide reasonable accommodations for the pregnant employee. This does not necessarily mean they must do everything to accommodate a pregnant employee, but they must provide reasonable accommodations based on the request the employee has made.

Sometimes following notification of an employee being pregnant, an employer may conclude on their own that the employee cannot perform their normal job duties. This may result in demotion, a reduction in your duties, and even your job no longer existing when you return from FMLA leave.

Actions such as these may be considered discrimination.

Below, we take a closer look at how to prove pregnancy discrimination and what you can do if you have been demoted because of your pregnancy.

What is Pregnancy Discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination is a form of discrimination that is illegal in the United States. It  involves treating either an applicant or employee who is pregnant “unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.”

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a federal law that forbids discrimination based on pregnancy in all aspects of employment including:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Layoffs
  • Training
  • Pay
  • Job assignments
  • Benefits such as health insurance, leave, 401k, etc…

Pregnancy discrimination can also take the form of workplace harassment that creates a hostile or offensive workplace, as well as solely focusing on any pregnancy-related conditions when determining an employee’s overall ability to work.

What Can I Do if I’m Demoted While Pregnant?

If you have been demoted while pregnant and you have reason to believe it was on the basis of your pregnancy, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Filing a pregnancy discrimination complaint can be done in person at the closest EEOC office to you or by mail. Information you will need to file an EEOC complaint includes:

  • Your name, address, and telephone number
  • Your employer’s name, address, and telephone number
  • A description of the event(s) that you believe constitute discrimination, harassment, or unfair
  • The dates that the event(s) occurred

An EEOC complaint will need to be filed within 180 days or 300 days if your complaint is covered by state law as well.

Our experienced Columbus Ohio pregnancy discrimination lawyers are available to assist you with filing a complaint with the EEOC. Our attorneys can guide you through the filing process to ensure that every step in the process is completed.

How to Prove Pregnancy Discrimination

During the process of filing an EEOC complaint, it is important to know the best ways to prove pregnancy discrimination.

Typically, evidence of discrimination will play a key part in proving pregnancy discrimination. Evidence can include:

  • Your own documentation and notes on the discrimination as it occurred – dates, times, people involved, and what happened;
  • Documentation from your employer that shows demotion, firing, or denial of benefits; and/or
  • Eyewitness testimony from other employees or individuals that witnessed the discrimination.

Evidence can be concrete (i.e. written proof) or circumstantial (where discrimination is a reasonable conclusion even if you do not have an outright admission of discrimination). Circumstantial evidence may include suspicious timing of a demotion or your firing being handled differently compared to other employees.

As you work to gather evidence, consider consulting with a pregnancy discrimination lawyer at Coffman Legal, LLC. We will guide you through the process that protects you from harassment or discrimination because you are pregnant and be able to take a close look at all of the evidence that you have.

Work With a Trusted Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer in Columbus, OH

If you feel as though you are being harassed, retaliated, or discriminated against following your return to work from maternity leave or because of your pregnancy, it is important to connect with an experienced pregnancy discrimination lawyer in Columbus, OH.

The Coffman Legal team is here to offer trusted counsel and guidance to you, whether you received disciplinary action based on your pregnancy or if your job is no longer offered following FMLA leave.

Pregnancy discrimination is something we can assist with, by answering questions and offering legal representation.

Connect with us online or over the phone at 614-949-1181 to schedule a free and fully confidential consultation with our pregnancy discrimination attorneys.


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