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Pregnancy discrimination can have serious consequences

Some Florida employers may be concerned that a pregnant employee may create a hardship for the company due to potential health issues and weeks or months of maternity leave after the birth. However, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission points out that there is a law that specifically prohibits this type of employment discrimination.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act states that it is a form of sex discrimination if an employer decides not to hire a pregnant woman, or one who is suffering a health problem related to her pregnancy, merely on the basis of her condition. According to a recent EEOC press release, an insurance brokerage firm in Florida has become the subject of a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by that federal agency, which enforces this employment law and others.

A woman who received a job offer from the company claims that she mentioned her pregnancy after accepting the position. A representative of the company then allegedly contacted her by email to let her know she would not be hired after all. The language of the message implied that the employer did not believe she would stay in the position after the birth, and that this would cause difficulty for the company.

Although the EEOC is seeking actual and punitive damages to recover the woman’s financial losses, another focus of the litigation is the correction of the company’s illegal practices and policies through training of staff and administration, among other remedies. The federal agency did attempt to resolve the issue through conciliation, but was unable to reach a settlement.

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