Being pregnant should be a time of joy, anticipation, and excitement, not of frustration and despair. Unfortunately for some mothers, they experience the latter due to an employer who refuses to keep them on the payroll simply because they are pregnant, are expecting to become pregnant, or have given birth to a child. If you have been wrongfully terminated, a Chicago employment attorney can help.
Pregnant Employee and Applicant Rights in Illinois
Under Illinois Public Act 98-1050, it is unlawful for an employer to act in any of the following ways when the action is based on an employee’s or applicant’s pregnancy status:
- Refuse to hire or promote;
- Discipline, discharge, demote, or reduce pay;
- Refuse to reinstate an employee at their former position and pay after they have taken time off from pregnancy;
- Retaliate or harass in any way;
- Refuse reasonable accommodations for the pregnant employee, such as a safe place to express milk, unless those accommodations would cause undue hardship for the employer;
- Require the employee to accept accommodations that they do not wish for; and
- Fail to post or keep employees informed of these rights.
If a pregnant employee asks for a reasonable accommodation to be made, such as being allowed to take longer bathroom breaks or be moved to light duty, it is the burden of the employer to deliver these accommodations unless the employer can prove that it would cause them undue hardship, such as exorbitant costs. However, instead of making accommodations, some employers turn around and fire the employee for simply asking. If this has happened to you, your employer has violated state and federal laws.
Family and Medical Leave Act
Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, employees who have given birth to children (fathers are included too) are allowed at least 12 weeks of unpaid time off work to care for their child or recently adopted child. The time frame that a parent can use these 12 weeks is within one year of the child’s birth or adoption. During this time, the employee is allowed to stay on their group healthcare as well. Employers must allow the employee to return to their position at their original pay and status after these 12 weeks.
Contact a Chicago Employment Lawyer Today
Some employers view pregnancy as an expense that they have to bear due to loss of productivity, and fire employees for becoming pregnant or taking time off after they give birth. In both of these situations, the employer has acted unlawfully, and needs to be held accountable by a wrongful termination lawsuit. Call the wrongful termination attorneys at the Chicago law offices of Goldman & Ehrlich today for assistance.