Women have experienced a long history of being treated unfairly in the workplace due to pregnancy and, in an effort to combat this unfair practice, federal, state and local laws have been passed. Pregnant and post-natal residents of Illinois are protected by the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Illinois Pregnancy Accommodation amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IPA). The PDA states that it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. It applies to all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, pay, and other benefits related to employment. However, it is applicable only to employers with 15 or more employees. The IPA requires employers to inform employees of their rights under the Act and grant employees reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and childbirth. The IPA applies to employers with 1 or more employees. Certain counties and cities in Illinois also have human rights ordinances that prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.
Understanding Your Rights
If you believe you have been discriminated against at any point in the employment process, whether as an applicant or an employee, you have rights and have options for legal recourse against this form of discrimination. Many of us facing discrimination are often unsure where to begin, unfortunately. Here are some ways in which you can begin to approach the situation:
- Write It Down: It is easy to forget details, so be sure to write down what happened, who was involved, and what was said. If the discussion occurred over emails or text, save them.
- Have a Discussion: Arrange to have a discussion with either your supervisor or someone in human resources. Inquire about company policy regarding pregnancy and accommodations.
- Talk to Your Co-Workers: If you know of other co-workers who have been or are pregnant, ask how they were treated. If the discrimination is widespread, you can offer each other support and work together to confront this major problem.
- File a Formal Complaint: File a formal complaint through the appropriate channels, whether through your supervisor, union or your employer’s human resources department.
- Do Not Wait: Never wait too long to file a charge or you might lose the right to do so. You can file a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Illinois Department of Human Rights or a city or county human rights agency. Be aware of any deadlines. Often, individuals usually have no more than 180 days after the discrimination occurred to take action. Contact an experienced attorney to ensure that your rights are protected and that your charge includes appropriate details to support your claims.
If you believe you are being discriminated against due to pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, this is against the law and you have a right to take action and protect your rights.
Representing Workers in Chicago
Many workers do not know the full extent of their rights or what protections the law affords them. The employment attorneys at The Prinz Law Firm are well-versed in this area of law and will advise you on how to recoup your losses and protect yourself.
Contact us today at (312) 212-4450 for a free consultation.