Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy can be a time of great joy and excitement when working mothers and their partners
are planning for their future and looking forward to welcoming a new family member. This
happiness can come along with some anxiety and stress as working parents contemplate
continuing in their successful careers, balancing financial concerns, addressing childcare needs,
and taking steps to find a comfortable work-life balance.

Whether you are currently employed, actively searching for work, or returning to work after a
leave, you have the right to feel confident that your pregnancy will not negatively impact your
ability to contribute at work. You have the right to be treated fairly and to be provided the same
benefits as your coworkers. Working mothers have the right to take time off necessary to have a
healthy pregnancy and childbirth. Parents have the right to return to work following
maternity/paternity leave—without the stress of experiencing unlawful pregnancy discrimination
or retaliation.

Despite recent advancements, employees and managers across the country continue to face
pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. If you or a loved one suspects pregnancy
discrimination is at play, MSB Employment Justice is here to fight for your rights and make sure
your voice is heard. From when you first notify your employer of the pregnancy to post leave, our experienced employment lawyers are dedicated to ensuring that you’re treated fairly
and in accordance with the law. Whether you’ve been turned down for a job, denied a promotion,
have been terminated or otherwise faced retaliation after leave, we understand the legal complexities of the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) and the federal Pregnancy
Discrimination Act (“PDA”).

Don’t let outdated beliefs about gender roles and pregnancy affect your important and valuable
career. Our team of experienced and tenacious employment attorneys has seen it all and have
been to the mat many times against Fortune 500 companies. MSB Employment Justice will help
you understand your legal position, explore your options, and collect compensation related to
your wage and benefit loss and emotional distress experienced as a result of the pregnancy

What Does Pregnancy Discrimination Look Like? Pregnancy discrimination can take many different forms and involves treating an individual (an applicant or employee) unfavorably in any aspect of employment due to a pregnancy. Examples of pregnancy discrimination include:
  • Job denial or job offer rescinded for a qualified applicant due to pregnancy
  • Denial of pump breaks and a safe, private, and secure place to pump breast milk
  • Termination or demotion upon reporting a pregnancy, or after requesting maternity, paternity, or FMLA leave
  • Demotion in connection with maternity or paternity leave
  • Denial of promotions or opportunities for advancement
  • Denial of the same training as your coworkers
  • Denial of equal benefits (leave and health insurance) and any other terms or conditions of employment allowed for non-pregnant employees
  • Denial of reasonable accommodations due to physical limitations such as lifting or health-related issues due to your pregnancy
  • Verbal harassment such as comments about your inability to perform your job or offensive jokes
  • Pay inequalities or wage cuts
  • Assignment of unfavorable job duties

What if I Have Pregnancy-Related Work Restrictions?

Our state and national laws mandate that employers provide reasonable accommodations for health conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. Following an employee’s request, the employer must actively engage with the employee to find a way to provide reasonable accommodation.

Reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to, a temporary job transfer to a less strenuous position, restroom breaks, seating, and lifting restrictions. Minnesota law requires that companies provide, and may not claim undue hardship for, the following accommodations:

1) more frequent restroom, food, and water breaks;

2) seating; and

3) limits on lifting restrictionsup to 20 pounds. Minn. Stat. § 181.9414.

Moreover, medical conditions resulting from pregnancy can be considered disabilities under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Further, under the PDA, an employer that allows temporarily disabled employees to take disability leave or leave without pay, must also allow an employee who is temporarily disabled due to their pregnancy to do the same.

Am I Entitled to Maternity Leave?

Yes. Pregnant employees have a right to time off for childbirth and recovery. Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), covered employers (employers with 50 or over employees) must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child. To qualify, the employee must have worked for the employer 12 months prior to taking the leave and at least 1,250 hours. Leave must also be granted if the pregnant employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition that arises during the pregnancy. 

Similarly, under Minnesota’s Pregnancy and Parental Leave Act, an employee may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child if the employer has “one more more” employees. Independent contractors are specifically excluded from this protection. Minn. Stat. § 181.941. The Act prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for “requesting or obtaining a leave of absence as provided by this section.” Id.

What’s more for nearly all Minnesotans, starting on January 1, 2026, Paid Family and Medical Leave will be available where some, but not all the employee’s wages will be replaced (based on a sliding scale) for “bonding leave.” Bonding leave is time off for a biological, adoptive, or foster parent to spend time with a child in connection with the birth, adoption, or placement of that child. Eligible employees must take bonding leave within 12 months of the birth, adoption, or placement of the child, except when the child must remain in the hospital longer than the birthing parent, in which case the leave must end within 12 months after the child leaves the hospital. Learn More

Do I Get My Job Back When I Return From Leave?

Yes. Upon returning from a leave, an employee is entitled to return to the same position or one with comparable duties, hours and pay. Additionally, the employee is entitled to the exact same benefits and seniority prior to taking leave. An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for taking parental leave. Any reduction in hours, demotion, or change in duties after a leave could be considered retaliation.

Harassment and Retaliation After Pregnancy

Your protections as a pregnant woman do not end after delivery. If you have returned from maternity leave and found that your job assignments or hours have changed or you are suffering detrimental treatment, you may have a pregnancy discrimination claim. Similarly, you have rights and protections if you have suffered harassment, disparaging comments, or your coworkers have created a hostile work environment related to your pregnancy, caregiving responsibilities, or maternity leave. Our legal team can review your case, assess your options, and help you pursue relevant claims against an employer.

Contact MSB Employment Justice Today

If you are being harassed or treated unfairly by your employer, you do not have to go through this by yourself. The experienced legal team at MSB specializes in employment law in Minnesota and across the country. We’ve worked with hundreds of clients and helped them successfully navigate the legal system regarding employment law. We are experts in employment law and can help you with your case against your employer for pregnancy discrimination or retaliation. We will fight for your rights and be with you every step of the way on your legal journey. At MSB Employment Justice, we do not want you to suffer alone in silence. Reach out to us today for a free consultation. We provide holistic legal services in the Twin Cities, offering compassion and care as you navigate this challenging experience. Working with our knowledgeable team of top employment discrimination lawyers in Minnesota will make dealing with parental discrimination a breeze. We’ll be by your side, offering valuable legal counsel and support every step of the way.

If you want to learn more, click the button.