In Florida, employers are prohibited under Title VII and the Florida Civil Rights Act from discriminating against female workers in the terms and conditions of employment on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. To be protected from pregnancy discrimination you must work for company that has at least 15 workers.
How Do You Prove Pregnancy Discrimination?
By showing that the pregnancy was a “motivating factor” that prompted the employer’s decision to fire, demote, or deny promotion. You don’t have to prove that the pregnancy was the ONLY reasons for your employer’s decision, just that the pregnancy influenced the decision. So, if a pregnancy made a difference in the employer’s decision, it’s likely to be considered a motivating factor under the law.
To establish a pregnancy discrimination case under Title VII or the Florida Civil Rights Act, a plaintiff must prove the following facts:
- Plaintiff suffered an “adverse employment action” such as being fired or being denied a promotion.
- Plaintiff’s pregnancy was a “motivating factor” that prompted the adverse employment action.
Once a plaintiff establishes that an adverse employment action was motivated by a pregnancy, the burden shifts to the employer to produce a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for their taking an adverse employment action. This is a very light burden and the courts will not second-guess the business decision of the employer.
Then, the plaintiff must prove that the employer’s proffered legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons is pretext (or not worthy of belief) for unlawful pregnancy discrimination. In other words, to prove “pretext” a plaintiff must show the employer’s reason for termination is false, and the pregnancy was the reason for the action. A plaintiff must meet this burden “head-on” and cannot win a pregnancy discrimination case by simply disagreeing with the employer’s reasoning or second guessing the business decision of the boss. Pregnancy discrimination plaintiffs have the ultimate burden of proving discriminatory treatment because of the pregnancy, by the greater weight of the evidence.
Typically, you see a pregnancy discrimination case where a women is hired and then after a few months she announces she’s pregnant. The employer, then fires the pregnant woman citing performance issues or other non-discriminatory reasons. The only problem is the plaintiff has always had excellent performance reviews, and she was fired only a few days after announcing her pregnancy. Here, the pregnant plaintiff would have a strong case because she has shown “pretext” or that performance was not the real reason for her termination.
How To Deal With Pregnancy Discrimination?
If you are still employed, the first thing you should do is make a written complaint to your employer. You want to make the employer aware that you feel you’re being treated differently because you’re pregnant. The easiest way to do this is call a pregnancy discrimination lawyer and explain the situation. Most pregnancy discrimination lawyers in Florida will guide you through the process of exercising your statutorily protected right to complain about unlawful discrimination in the workplace.
When making a discrimination complaint be sure to follow the rules outlines in your handbook about making such complaints. Usually, you can make the complaint directly to the human resources department. This is especially true when the persons doing the unlawful discrimination is a direct supervisor. When making your written complaint be sure to send it certified mail-return receipt or some other method where you can confirm receipt (i.e. email, FedEx, etc.). You can also make a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) called a charge of discrimination. In Florida, a charge of pregnancy discrimination must be filed within 300 days of when the unlawful discrimination took place.
Also, when making your complaint be sure not to sugar-coat the facts. You want to make it very clear that you are complaining about pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just say you feel you’re being treated differently, make it clear that you’re being treated differently because you are pregnant. Again, a qualified Florida pregnancy discrimination lawyer will be able to walk you through this process.
Charge of Discrimination
If you’ve already been fired because of you’re pregnant, you must file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and the Florida Commission on Human Relations BEFORE you can file a lawsuit in court. The Florida Commission on Human Relations is the administrative authority that investigates discrimination claims under the Florida Civil Right Act. As a practical matter, pregnancy discrimination claims under the Florida Civil Rights Act (state claim) is the law you want to sue under because it provides for punitive damages and suing in state court is a much friendly venue for plaintiffs then federal court under Title VII. As a side note, Title VII (federal law) is virtually the same substantive law as the Florida Civil Rights Act (state law).
Pregnancy Discrimination Settlements
If you win a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit in Florida you may receive compensatory damages as full, just, and reasonable compensation for all of your damages as a result of your employer’s unlawful pregnancy discrimination. It’s important to remember that compensatory damages are not imposed to penalize the employer and cannot be based on speculation or guess-work.
Under, Title VII a pregnancy discrimination plaintiff is entitled to net lost wages (and benefits) from the date of the adverse employment action and the date of the jury verdict and, emotional pain and mental anguish. Under the Florida Civil Rights Act, a pregnancy discrimination plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages for intentional acts of discrimination in the amount of $100,000.00.
For More Information
Visit The Longo Firm Website for more information about pregnancy discrimination in Florida under Title VII and the Florida Civil Rights Act. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel!
The Longo Firm
12555 Orange Drive, Ste. 233
Davie, FL 33330
Tel: (954) 862-3608
Fax: (954) 944-1916
Fla. Bar No. 97333