Pregnancy Discrimination in IL: What do I do?

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Pregnancy Discrimination in IL: What do I do?

Postby Dupo24 » Dec 27, 2005 3:26 pm

Hello, my fiancee and I feel that she is being discriminated at work because of her pregnancy.

I don't know where to go for advice, i just need help with this problem.

We have documented several examples of what I would call discrimination that includes:

My fiancee was very sick one morning, but decided to go to work anyway. I had called her job to inform them that she had not kept any food down for 48 hours. My fiancee was not allowed to leave work and seek medical treatment until she found someone to work for her. She found someone to come in and work for her. Approximately three hours passed from the time her replacement came in until she was allowed to go home. She called her doctor the next day and the doctors documented that she suffered from hyperemesis, which is dehydration because of severe morning sickness. She ended up hospitalized for the night because of hyperemesis. She was asked for proof of hospitalization. She provided it. She was hospitalized three separate times over the course of a month because of hyperemesis and she had to call in sick.

Fiancee diagnosed with low lying placenta. Her doctors specified that she must not work more than 30 hours per week or else if the condition became worse, she would need to go on bed rest. The company responded by giving her one week at 30 hours, then she was gradually given more than 30 hours per week. She has also had overtime (over 40 hours) for at least three weeks since her doctor’s note was turned in and discussed.

Or working 4 1/2 years with nothing but positive performance reviews, but suddenly being called into a meeting 5 1/2 months into the pregnancy because of slacking on the job, increase in absences, and frequent lates because of morning sickness. She was told that she needs to improve or the company will take action.

My fiancee being upset because the store would not modify her schedule around her morning sickness but instead scheduling her 5 days the week of November 13th at 5 AM, even though, in the past, work schedules have been altered because of temporary illness.
Someone please help me out and point me in the right direction. I apologize if this is posted in the wrong forum or off topic or whatever, but I am in need of serious help.

Thank you kindly!
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Postby JennyK » Dec 27, 2005 3:41 pm

Is your wife's employer covered by FMLA? If so, she is entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid protected job leave. They don't have to pay her, but they can't fire her. Here is an overview of FMLA:

Generally, as a "temporary disability," employers must accomodate pregnant employees just as they would any other disabled empoyee. I am fairly certain your finacee's employer does have the right to require documentation from doctors/hospitals, rude as that is. Perhaps you should talk to a lawyer so you know your finacee's rights and what her possible remedies are.

What type of work does she do? Sorry she has to face this on top of being sick.
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Postby dwtegli » Dec 27, 2005 5:10 pm

Talk to your local or state labor department. If they think it is a case of discrimination (which I certainly agree that it is), they will go after the employer for you. Keep any and all documentation.

I know where you are coming from, I was fired from my job 2 months into my pregnancy with my son, and it still drives me crazy that I was just too sick to fight it. I feel that I would have won.

Please keep us updated on how your fiancee is doing and how things are going at work.
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Postby teddi » Dec 31, 2005 6:08 pm

It's important to know what state you live in.

Either way, there's federal law which applies to all 50 states. Her company, unless it is fairly small, ought to have someone responsible for being familiar with disability laws, specifically the ADA laws. (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Here is an ADA overview

More on Pregnancy Disability

If her employer hires more than 15 people, they are governed by the ADA rules.

It may help her to talk to her HR/hiring department, and writer a letter of complaint to them, and outline her knowledge of her being "temporarily disabled" due to pregnancy complications. Get all her copies of Drs notes, and /or ask her Dr to write a new note.

I am not sure if by "low lying" placenta you actually mean placenta previa, but if so, (if she's comfortable) have the Dr give those diagnoses (hyperemeis & placenta previa). Those are my suggestions.
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Postby HeatherJ » Jan 20, 2006 1:55 pm

I am very sorry your fiancee is having such trouble - with HG and with her employer! I know this message comes several weeks after your original post, but maybe it can still be of some help.

I am not a lawyer and am not attempting to offer legal advice. I just have HG right now... and I used to work in human resources and deal occasionally with FMLA issues. I am also from IL. So I am sympathetic to your problems! Maybe you will find the following information helpful:

As suggested, you need to determine if her employer is a covered employer under FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act): ... 25.104.htm

And determine if she is a covered employee: ... 25.110.htm

If both of these conditions are satisfied, they must allow her up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. These 12 weeks do not have to be all at once. They do not just have to be when she has the baby - they can be taken if you have a serious medical condition (such as a doctor ordering time off work or bed rest or something). They cannot interrupt her seniority and cannot take away her job. If the job must be filled by someone else in the interim, they must have an equivalent job available upon her return.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was passed as an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As long as the employer has more than 15 employees, they are not allowed to treat her any differently than they would a non-pregnant employee, provided she is able to carry out duties of her job. This goes for how they handle sick leave, disability, benefits, policies, procedures, discipline, etc. In other words, if they give consideration to someone else with a different medical disability, they must also afford that consideration to a pregnant woman.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 also guarantees that people regarded as having a disability must be given reasonable accommodations (what is reasonable is a good question, but often small modifications to job duties can be made, and things of that nature). She may be eligible for an accommodation, as long as she is able to perform the core requirements of her job.

The one thing about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is that she must be able to perform duties of her job with similar ability to a non-pregnant equivalent. It does not offer protection to people unable to perform the duties of the job. But that is where FMLA may benefit her (if eligible) allowing some time off for recovery from HG or pregnancy.

My biggest advice is to DOCUMENT everything. Every conversation, every doctor's trip, every problem you have with her employer, every email and every action taken. See if her HR department can help mediate through the problems. It may be due to misunderstanding of "middle management" who may be unaware of laws. You'd be amazed how under-trained some employees are when in management positions. That does not excuse their actions, but perhaps a more knowledgeable person can help you through. If you've done everything you feel you can do and you still feel she is being discriminated against, there may be recourse through filing a complaint with the EEOC or seeking legal action.

I hope some of this is helpful! Best wishes to you and your fiancee.
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Postby jesspinky1 » May 22, 2006 11:03 am

I wish I could help you. I went thru the same thing during my 2nd pregnancy and ended up losing my job for "making too many mistakes and being lazy". I fought it and was unable to do anything about it. Unemployment was denied as was disability. I ended up on welfare for the remainder of my pregnancy because I could not get another job.

Good luck to you and your fiance.
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