A woman in Portland, OR claims she was fired for taking too many bathroom breaks when she was pregnant with her second child. The woman, who worked for a cell phone chip manufacturer, says that supervisors told her she was fired for stealing. The woman had not been clocking out to take her frequent bathroom breaks.
The woman had worked at the company for 10 years. She says that she told her supervisor during her first pregnancy that she needed more frequent bathroom breaks while she was pregnant. She alleges that she asked her supervisor if she needed to clock out for the bathroom breaks and he told her not to bother.
In January 2013, she told her boss that she was pregnant again, and says that he seemed unhappy with the news. During her second pregnancy, she needed to go to the bathroom more often than during the first pregnancy because of a bladder condition that was a result of her first pregnancy. She also had to use the restroom quickly because of her medical issues and would not have had time to clock out without an accident.
In June 2013, the woman was called to a meeting with her supervisor and a human resources manager who asked why she was not clocking out for bathroom breaks. He said that he had told her she needed to clock out. The HR representative told her that she could have been watching movies in the bathroom. She was then fired.
Even before she was fired, the woman complained to the CEO that her boss favored male employees over female employees. The boss allegedly gave the men the best tasks and did not discipline them as much as the women. The woman is suing the company for gender and pregnancy discrimination and is asking for $400,000 in damages. She also asked to be reinstated in her job, which paid $18.76 per hour. In her lawsuit, she alleges that other workers who were not pregnant were not required to clock out before using the restroom.
Unfortunately, this type of behavior by a company towards a pregnant employee is not unique. Often, employers are not exactly thrilled when they find out a female employee is pregnant. The employer may not want to allow the employee to take maternity leave. The employer may also be inconvenienced by the employee’s doctor’s appointments. Additionally, the employer may fear that the employee may quit after the baby is born. Although some of these concerns may be legitimate ones, an employer is not allowed to discriminate against an employee because she becomes pregnant.
The Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act forbids companies from discriminating against employees based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, layoffs, job assignments, benefits, or any other term or condition of employment. Also, most employers must allow new parents to take up to 12 weeks of maternity leave, which can be used to care for the baby.
In some cases, employers will want to get rid of an employee once they find out she is pregnant. The employer may not want to give pregnant employees any of the benefits to which they are entitled, such as maternity leave. Since employers know that discrimination based on pregnancy is illegal under Federal and California law, they will sometimes invent excuses to fire the employee. In the situation involving the pregnant woman who was fired for taking too many bathroom breaks, the company claimed that she was stealing and fired her even though other employees did not have to clock out to take bathroom breaks.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that employers who choose to discriminate against employees because of pregnancy should not be allowed to get away with their illegal behavior. If you have been discriminated against in the workplace because of your pregnancy, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland pregnancy discrimination attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She will be happy to provide you with a free consultation.