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Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer in Illinois

Illinois state and federal laws protect you against discrimination in the workplace because you are pregnant, thinking about having a family, or recently had a child. If you have been mistreated at work or denied a job because of a pregnancy-related condition, a pregnancy discrimination lawyer in Illinois can help you file a lawsuit and make things right.

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      Have you been fired, underpaid, deprived of the opportunity to advance in your career, or otherwise mistreated at work because you are pregnant, thinking about growing your family, or recently had a child?

      If so, this is pregnancy discrimination, and you may have the opportunity to hold your employer accountable for their illegal actions. An experienced Illinois pregnancy discrimination lawyer at the Mahoney Law Firm can help you fight back.

      For more than 16 years, attorney Ryan Mahoney has been a dedicated advocate for workers who have experienced inexcusable discrimination and harassment on the job. He knows how to handle employers who believe that they are above the law and won’t get caught for mistreating their pregnant employees.

      He helps to level the playing field and ensures that his clients have every opportunity to expose discrimination and demand accountability.

      Discrimination based on your desire to have a family can affect every aspect of your life. You should be fully compensated for the personal, financial, and emotional trauma you have endured. Call the Mahoney Law Firm to discover how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.

      What is pregnancy discrimination?

      Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer mistreats or treats an employee or job applicant differently because of a:

      • Past pregnancy
      • Current pregnancy
      • Future pregnancy
      • Pregnancy-related medical condition

      Under Federal law, pregnancy discrimination can also extend to an employee’s choices regarding abortion and birth control.

      Discrimination based on pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions might involve:

      • Recruiting
      • Hiring
      • Promotion
      • Pay and compensation
      • Job benefits
      • Vacation, sick time, and paid time off
      • Inclusion in company activities
      • Discipline
      • Tenure
      • Transfers
      • Retaliation
      • Termination

      Simply put, a job applicant or an employee might experience discrimination or harassment because of a pregnancy at any point throughout their career.

      Direct vs. Indirect Pregnancy Discrimination

      Discrimination can be direct or indirect.

      Direct discrimination involves the mistreatment of a specific individual because of a protected characteristic—in this case, pregnancy. For instance, you would be the victim of direct pregnancy discrimination if you weren’t hired for a job because you mentioned planning to get pregnant in the near future and the employer didn’t want to deal with that.

      On the other hand, indirect discrimination can be more subtle and widespread. A company might have a policy that puts pregnant women at a disadvantage compared to other employees or applicants.

      For example, an employer might have a policy that requires employees to lift and carry items of a certain weight. Under the policy, you can be terminated without exception if you can’t perform the heavy lifting. If a female employee gets pregnant, she is automatically at risk of losing her job unless she tries to do the heavy lifting, which could pose a serious threat to her health and her baby’s.

      Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination

      While pregnancy discrimination can happen at any time or in any capacity, some common examples include:

      • Not getting hired for a job because you were recently pregnant
      • Repeatedly being scheduled for less-favorable shifts because you are pregnant
      • An employer refusing to provide reasonable accommodations to help you do your job
      • Consistently being passed over for promotions and raises, though you have earned them
      • Getting bullied, taunted, or otherwise harassed because of a pregnancy-related condition, such as breastfeeding or pumping breast milk at work
      • Being fired after you have disclosed that you are expecting a child

      The good news is that Illinois state and federal law protect you from these (and other) types of pregnancy discrimination and harassment. Under the law, employers aren’t just prohibited from mistreating you because of pregnancy. They are required to provide reasonable accommodations to help you to do your job.

      What laws protect against pregnancy discrimination in Illinois?

      Several federal and state laws offer protection and remedies if you have been discriminated against because of a pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition in Illinois.

      Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Protections

      Several federal laws protect pregnant women in the workplace.

      Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

      The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to prohibit sex discrimination based on pregnancy. In other words, the term “sex” was expanded to include pregnancy (past, current, and future), childbirth, and pregnancy-related medical conditions.

      Under the law, harassment and discrimination based on these protected characteristics are explicitly prohibited. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act applies to all federal employers and any private employer with at least 15 employees.

      Americans With Disabilities Act

      Pregnant job applicants and employees may also gain protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Pregnancy is not a disability, but many women may experience impairments or challenges that qualify as disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

      These might include preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, morning sickness, and edema. If you experience a disability while pregnant, you can ask your employer to provide temporary and reasonable accommodations to help your job be easier.

      Family and Medical Leave Act

      The Family and Medical Leave Act ensures that women can take up to 12 weeks off from work to take care of a newborn child and/or deal with a pregnancy or childbirth-related health issue. Employers are prohibited from terminating an employee or substantially changing their job duties during approved leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

      Fair Labor Standards Act

      In 2010, the Fair Labor Standards Act was amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to require employers to make working moms better able to breastfeed their newborn children. Under the law, employers with at least 50 employees must provide reasonable break time for a new mom to pump or express breast milk until her child turns one.

      Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

      The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act expands the right for pregnant women and women experiencing pregnancy-related conditions to receive reasonable accommodations in the workplace. Specifically, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act prohibits employment practices that discriminate against reasonable accommodations for pregnancy. This goes into effect on June 27, 2023.

      Illinois State Pregnancy Discrimination Protections

      The Illinois Human Rights Act provides employees in the state with “freedom from unlawful discrimination” based on several protected characteristics. Pregnancy is explicitly mentioned as a protected characteristic under the Illinois Human Rights Act.

      Under the law, pregnancy is defined to mean “pregnancy, childbirth, or medical or common conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.” The law also specifically prohibits workplace harassment because of a job applicant or employee’s pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition. The Illinois Human Rights Act applies to any employer in the state with one or more employees.

      What accommodations should my employer provide if I’m pregnant?

      The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and the Illinois Human Rights Act all require employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant or recently pregnant employees in some situations.

      Specifically, employers, when asked, must provide reasonable accommodations for “any medical or common condition of a job applicant or employee related to pregnancy or a childbirth” unless it would “impose an undue hardship on the ordinary operation of the business.”

      Employers are permitted to ask for proof of the disability or condition to determine a medical justification for the assistance.

      What types of accommodations might an employer have to provide? While the specific assistance might vary from case to case, reasonable accommodations might include:

      • Light duty or a marked reduction in physical labor
      • Limiting heavy lifting
      • The ability to work remotely
      • Flexible schedule adjustments to make it easier to go to doctor’s appointments
      • Private facilities to pump breast milk
      • The ability to sit down to work
      • Temporary reassignment
      • Flexibility with paid time off and sick days

      Almost anything that can help make your job easier and that won’t substantially interfere with business operations should qualify as a reasonable accommodation.

      What damages can I recover if I file a pregnancy employment discrimination lawsuit?

      When you are the victim of discrimination in the workplace because you are pregnant, planning on getting pregnant, or recently had a child, you can take legal action and file a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against your employer.

      The state and federal laws that protect you from discrimination also provide the opportunity to recover actual damages, compensatory damages, and in some cases, punitive damages. Potential damages can include:

      • Front pay
      • Back pay
      • Lost job benefits
      • Reinstatement
      • Pain and suffering
      • Marital strain
      • Attorney’s fees

      The types of damages awarded in a pregnancy discrimination claim can differ depending on whether you file a claim under state or federal law. For instance, noneconomic damages, like those for emotional distress, can only be recovered under a federal pregnancy discrimination action. Filing a claim and asserting your rights under both Illinois and federal law can be crucial.


      How long will I have to address pregnancy discrimination in an Illinois workplace?

      As the victim of pregnancy discrimination, you can file a claim with the Illinois Department of Human Rights or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You have just 300 days from the date of the last act of discrimination to assert your rights.

      Contact our experienced sex discrimination lawyer in Illinois as soon as you suspect that you have been discriminated against or harassed because of a pregnancy. Once the statute of limitations expires, you lose the ability to assert your rights under the law.

      Protect Your Rights With an Illinois Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer

      Speaking out about discrimination and standing up to your employer can seem intimidating. You might fear retaliation or continued mistreatment or that your employer won’t admit to the mistreatment. Illinois pregnancy discrimination lawyer Ryan Mahoney and the team at the Mahoney Law Firm are here to provide the support and guidance you need to get through this difficult time.

      We are ready to take on your employer, gather evidence of your pregnancy-related discrimination, and hold them accountable for the harm they have caused. By filing a claim, you don’t just stand up for yourself. You help change company policies and protect other pregnant employees from experiencing the same mistreatment.

      Call our law office in Madison County, Illinois, to learn more about your legal rights and discover how our award-winning legal team can help you make the most of your pregnancy discrimination claim.

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