Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers MN

Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

Pregnancy can be a time of great joy and excitement when mothers-to-be and their partners are planning for their future and looking forward to welcoming their new baby. For working parents, this time is filled with happiness, as well as some anxiety or stress as they contemplate continuing in their successful careers, balancing financial concerns, addressing childcare needs, and taking steps to find a comfortable work-life balance. Some working mothers may be unsure how to inform their employer of a pregnancy or request maternity leave. Some may fear retaliation from their employer in the form of a demotion, denied accommodations, or even termination. In addition, some women may be in the midst of a job search and concerned about a prospective employer’s reaction to their pregnancy.

Whether you are currently employed, in the midst of a job search, or returning to work after a maternity or paternity leave, you have the right to be treated fairly by your employer. You have the right to feel confident that your pregnancy will not negatively impact your ability to contribute at work or change your career path. 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 or paternity leave without the stress of experiencing unlawful pregnancy discrimination or retaliation from coworkers, management, or their HR department.

If you have concerns or questions about discrimination or harassment at work in connection with your pregnancy, our experienced pregnancy discrimination lawyers in Minnesota at Halunen Law can help. Our employment attorneys understand the devastating emotional, and financial impact pregnancy discrimination may have on you and your family.

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  • Job denial or job offer rescinded for a qualified applicant due to pregnancy.
  • Termination or demotion upon reporting a pregnancy, or after requesting maternity, paternity, or FMLA leave.
  • Pay inequalities or pay cuts.
  • Assignment of unfavorable tasks and job duties
  • Demotion in connection with maternity or paternity leave.
  • Denial of promotions or opportunities for promotion or advancement.
  • Termination as a result of a pregnancy.
  • Denial of the same training as your colleagues.
  • Denial of equal benefits (such as leave and health insurance) and any other terms or conditions of employment allowed for non-pregnant employees.
  • Denial of pump breaks and a safe, private and secure place to pump breast milk.
  • 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.
  • Retaliation for reporting pregnancy discrimination.

What Legal Protections Do I Have When I Am Pregnant?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was signed into law on October 31, 1978 to prohibit discrimination in the workplace on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The PDA forbids employers from discriminating against pregnant employees in all aspects of their jobs—including hiring and firing, pay, job duties, training, health insurance, and more. Since the enactment of this important law, more women have been able to successfully continue working while pregnant. They have also been able to work further into their pregnancies without being forced to leave their jobs or end their careers. This law was a crucial step forward for women’s rights in the workplace; however, it has not ended the discriminatory practices.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires certain employers to allow an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without risk of losing their job.

The Minnesota Pregnancy and Parental Leave Act allows an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child if the employer has 21 or more employees and the employee has worked for the company for at least 12 months and at least half time preceding the leave request.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may require an employer to accommodate a pregnancy-related medical condition that meets the ADA definition of “disability.” However, the ADA does not require your employer to make accommodations or changes that involve significant hardship, difficulty, or expense.

What are reasonable accommodations that may be available during and after pregnancy?

Many women are able to work through their pregnancies without any need for any type of work modifications (called “accommodations”); but if you need some adjustments, you should work with your physician and your HR department to determine what is needed and to request those accommodations. The goal is to allow you to have a healthy pregnancy without having to abandon your career.

Examples of reasonable accommodations may include:

  • Elimination of minimal tasks that are physically taxing (sometimes called “light-duty” work)
  • Lifting restrictions
  • Minor changes to your breaks or work schedules
  • Shift changes
  • Ergonomic office furniture
  • Elimination of exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Permission to work remotely

Once your child is born, your employer may also be required to provide you with a safe, private and secure place to pump breast milk.

Too often, pregnant employees who need accommodations are forced out of their jobs unnecessarily when minor adjustments would allow them to keep working. If you have been denied reasonable accommodations or forced to quit your job due to your pregnancy, you should contact our pregnancy discrimination attorneys today for a free legal consultation.

Intersection of pregnancy discrimination with other types of discrimination

Unfortunately, other types of discrimination can also come into play with pregnancy discrimination. While discriminatory treatment may stem, in part, from perceptions or stereotypes about the abilities of pregnant women, employers may also be motivated by unfair biases against mothers from certain racial, ethnic, or economic backgrounds. An attorney who is experienced in protecting employees from discrimination can help you figure out whether other types of discrimination may be involved in how your employer treats your pregnancy

Paternity Leave Discrimination or Retaliation

Discrimination against a working parent may not end once the baby has arrived. New mothers may encounter continued harassment, unreasonable job demands, pay cuts, or other unfair treatment based on their need to spend time caring for a baby. Even new fathers may experience parental status discrimination or retaliation. New fathers returning from paternity leave or family medical leave (FMLA) may experience demotions or terminations based on their parental status or need to take time to care for their child. We understand how this can negatively affect a working parent’s career and their family’s financial situation, let alone add undo stress to a happy time in their lives. If your hours were cut, you were denied a job, or you were fired because of your family responsibilities, you have the right to hold your employer accountable.

Discrimination Based on Intent to Become Pregnant

Discrimination against an employee because they intend to, are trying to, or simply have the potential to become pregnant is also unlawful discrimination. For example, an employee may notify her manager of her intent to start a family and then begin to experience noticeable changes to her role, denial of opportunities for training and other advancement opportunities, pay cuts or demotions, isolation, or a hostile work environment. The Supreme Court has held that Title VII “prohibit[s] an employer from discriminating against a woman because of her capacity to become pregnant.”  Thus, women must not be discriminated against with regard to job opportunities or benefits because they might get pregnant.


Does my boss have to keep my pregnancy confidential?

Generally speaking, pregnancy is considered personal information, which your employer should not be sharing without your consent or authorization. Additionally, your manager or coworkers cannot discriminate against you because you are pregnant, were pregnant, or intend to become pregnant. Pregnancy discrimination laws are meant to protect employees from unfair treatment due to a pregnancy, but they won't necessarily prevent your manager from sharing your news with others.

How much does it cost to hire Halunen Law to help me with my personal injury claim?

Halunen Law Attorneys work on a contingency basis which means there are no up-front costs to you. Our attorneys are only paid when we succeed in getting money damages for you or your family member.

How do I report pregnancy discrimination in Minnesota? You can report pregnancy discrimination directly to your employer or Human Resources Department, to a civil rights enforcement agency such as the Minnesota Department of Human Rights or the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), or to the courts with a lawsuit. We recommend that you contact an experienced employment law attorney to determine which option of reporting pregnancy discrimination best fits your situation.

What is the time limit to file a claim for pregnancy discrimination?

In Minnesota, you have one year from the date of the last act of pregnancy discrimination to file a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit or file a claim with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. You have 300 days from the date of the last act of pregnancy discrimination to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if you wish to bring federal claims under Title VII or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To ensure you do not miss important deadlines, we suggest reaching out to our pregnancy discrimination attorneys at Halunen Law right away.

Can my employer fire me if I claim pregnancy discrimination?

If your employer terminates you after and because you reported pregnancy discrimination, you may have an additional claim of retaliation. If you are concerned about getting terminated or other types of retaliation, you should contact our attorneys to understand your legal rights and options.

More Practice Areas

Protecting Your Rights During Pregnancy

Growing your family should be a joyful time, and our team of employment attorneys is dedicated to protecting the rights of working parents faced with these difficult challenges.

When you contact our law firm, one of our Intake Specialists will be your first significant point of contact. Well-versed in Halunen Law’s practice areas, these professionals will listen to your concerns or review your submitted form and direct your inquiry accordingly. Our attorneys offer a free, confidential consultation to all potential clients. If we take your case, there is no cost unless we win. Call us today at 612-605-4098 or fill out the Contact Form.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.