Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers in Naperville and Chicago

Protecting Pregnant Workers in Chicago and Illinois

It is illegal to fire someone because they are pregnant. The tougher issue is showing that the termination was actually because of the pregnancy. Sometimes employers will make up a reason because they know that it is illegal to fire someone because they are pregnant.

Furthermore, women who are pregnant cannot be adversely affected by work policies based on their pregnancy, childbirth, or associated conditions.

Pregnancy discrimination may occur in various situations, including:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Wages
  • Job assignments
  • Promotions
  • Training
  • Benefits

Request your complimentary case review with one of our Naperville & Chicago lawyers by calling (312) 818-2407 today.

Pregnancy Discrimination Laws in Illinois

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has deemed pregnancy discrimination a growing problem. As such, the EEOC recently issued guidance on pregnancy discrimination in the workplace that requires “pregnant employees to be treated the same as non-pregnant employees,” and requires accommodations to be provided to pregnant employees that is of equal accommodations provided to non-pregnant employees.

Employers in Illinois may not:

  • Implement policies that are outright discriminatory against pregnant women
  • Discharge or refuse to hire or promote a woman because she is pregnant
  • Establish mandatory maternity lave unrelated to the employee’s ability to work
  • Prohibit the employee from returning to work for a predetermined period following childbirth

It is ultimately unlawful for an employer to differentiate between pregnancy related and other disabilities. A pregnant female employee must be treated just as another temporarily disabled employee would be treated. Therefore, an employer must make reasonable accommodations to allow the employee to perform modified job duties or an alternative work assignment.

If neither a modification of job duties or an alternative work assignment is sufficient, the employer may need to allow the employee to take disability leave or unpaid leave as it would for other employees.

Employees who are or were pregnant and feel they are being or have been discriminated against due to their pregnancy should discuss their circumstances with an attorney. Our firm can help employees investigate the merits of their case and determine whether discrimination has occurred.

Maternity Leave Laws in Illinois

Aside from the aforementioned, the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) adds additional protections to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The FMLA provides for additional rights for break times when nursing.

The FMLA also allows pregnant employees who meet certain conditions to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for:

  • Childbirth
  • Adoption
  • Serious health conditions
  • Taking care of a sick child or family member

Employees cannot be fired due to taking maternity leave under the FMLA. When you return from your leave, your employer is required to reinstate you to the same or a similar position.

What ChatGPT Thinks About Pregnancy Discrimination

We think ChatGPT has some good advice about pregnancy discrimination. Here’s what she told us:

Pregnancy discrimination is a serious issue in the workplace, and it can affect women in Illinois just as much as it can in any other state. Despite the protections afforded to pregnant women under federal law, such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, many employers in Illinois continue to engage in discriminatory practices.

Pregnancy discrimination can take many forms, ranging from outright termination to more subtle forms of bias. For example, an employer may refuse to hire a pregnant woman, deny her promotions or raises, or fail to provide her with reasonable accommodations such as time off for doctor's appointments or modified job duties. These actions can have serious consequences for pregnant women, not only in terms of their employment but also their health and wellbeing.

The Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA)

In Illinois, pregnant women are protected by state law as well as federal law. The Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. This includes protections against harassment, retaliation, and unequal pay. Additionally, the IHRA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, such as modified job duties or additional time off.

Despite these legal protections, pregnancy discrimination is still a problem in Illinois. According to a 2019 report by the National Women's Law Center, nearly one in four pregnant women in Illinois report experiencing discrimination at work. This is particularly true for women of color and low-income women, who are more likely to work in low-wage jobs without the same legal protections as higher-paid workers.

Fortunately, there are resources available to women who have experienced pregnancy discrimination in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) is responsible for enforcing the IHRA and investigating claims of discrimination. Women who believe they have been discriminated against can file a complaint with the IDHR, which will investigate the claim and determine whether there is evidence of discrimination.

Additionally, there are a number of organizations in Illinois that provide legal and advocacy services for pregnant women and new mothers. These organizations can provide legal advice, representation, and support to women who have experienced discrimination, as well as working to raise awareness of the issue and push for policy changes.

In conclusion, pregnancy discrimination is a serious issue in Illinois, as it is in many other parts of the country. Despite the legal protections in place, many women still face discrimination and bias in the workplace, which can have serious consequences for their health and wellbeing. It is important for women to know their rights and to speak out against discrimination, and for policymakers and employers to work together to ensure that all women are able to work and thrive, regardless of their pregnancy status.

Additional Protections for Pregnant Employees in Illinois

Illinois passed a law (PA 98-1050) requiring that employers of any size make reasonable accommodations arising out of pregnancy. The law relates to accommodations while the employee is pregnant, recovering from childbirth, and if the employee is having common medical conditions associated with being pregnant.

Employers must provide reasonable accommodations unless the employer can show an undue hardship. Reasonable accommodations are reasonable, temporary changes that let an individual do the essential functions of a job while pregnant or recovering from childbirth. Employers cannot retaliate against an employee who requests a reasonable accommodation.

In Illinois, the Illinois Department of Human Rights processes employment discrimination claims.

Under federal law, the EEOC enforces the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Notably, the EEOC regards inquiry into whether an applicant intends to become pregnant as evidence of employment discrimination.

For detailed information on how our lawyers can help you with your unique case, dial (312) 818-2407 today.

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