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Pregnancy Discrimination Makes Headlines: Don’t be Next!

Pregnancy discrimination often makes headlines as Nike found out on Mother’s Day.  Alysia Montańo, an Olympian and professional runner, authored an opinion piece in the New York Times slamming Nike for pregnancy discrimination.  Specifically, she accused the company of threatening to cut her paycheck and her insurance when she was pregnant.  Multiple other athletes shared similar experiences with the sport apparel giant.  While many of these athletes were independent contractors rather than employees, this negative press is a good reminder for employers.  Allegations of pregnancy discrimination make the news. 

Although the marketing adage goes – “all news is good news” – that is not the case for employers when pregnancy discrimination is alleged.  While there is always another side to the story, staying out of the lime light on this front is strongly recommended. 

As employers hopefully already know, state, federal, and local law prohibits pregnancy discrimination.  In fact, in 2017, Connecticut revised the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act to enhance protections for pregnant employees.  Connecticut now mandates employers post a new notice about the rights of pregnant employees and the explanation of employee rights is much more aggressive than ever before.  For example, employers cannot force an employee to take leave while pregnant when a different reasonable accommodation would do. 

For well-intentioned, but sometimes misinformed employers, pregnancy can create a ton of landmines at work.  For instances, we often see employers prevent workers from lifting boxes or reassigning tasks for fear of harming the unborn baby.  While the act may be well-intentioned, this is exactly what an employer cannot do.  As an employer if you find yourself in murky waters contemplating how best to handle the news an employee is expecting, we suggest you contact competent labor and employment counsel to walk you through the process.  Avoid the front page of the newspaper. You’ll be glad you did.

Brody and Associates regularly provides counsel on civil rights issues and employment laws in general.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.