When a lawsuit is filed alleging pregnancy discrimination, many people mistakenly assume the claimant is a woman, who was wrongfully discriminated against by a male supervisor. That is not accurate. For example, an employee working for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) took legal action against the company claiming she was subjected to routine sexual harassment and discrimination by her female supervisor after becoming pregnant, according to Variety.
The plaintiff alleged that her supervisor engaged in sexually suggestive talk during staff meetings. For example, the supervisor would declare that children who are breastfed become obsessed with women’s breasts. During this sexually inappropriate conversation, the supervisor attempted to demonstrate a child’s behavior by mimicking the squeezing of the claimant’s breasts (and this was in front of the entire staff). Quite understandably, the employee was left feeling embarrassed and traumatized.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the supervisor, according to the complaint, asked invasive questions when the employee informed her employer of becoming pregnant.
According to the employee’s lawsuit, she complained to the human resources department within OWN. The company responded by holding a training event, but did not investigate the employee’s supervisor. The employee alleges in the suit that her boss undermined her at work, and that she became so stressed out that she ultimately had to take time away to simply manage her stress and anxiety.
Understanding Your Rights When Subjected to Pregnancy Discrimination
The allegations in the lawsuit filed against OWN are disturbing, but not uncommon. Many women across the country, including in Florida, are subjected to inappropriate comments or invasive probing questions after becoming pregnant. Take comfort in knowing you have legal rights and protections.
For example, there is a federal law known as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which established a federal remedy for women who claim to have been subjected to sexual discrimination at work. On the state level, there is the Florida Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination based on sex through rulings from Florida courts.
If you believe you have been discriminated against due to your pregnancy, you should first file a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Please note that you do not have an infinite amount of time to take action. In fact, you must file a complaint with the EEOC within 300 days of the discriminatory action. The EEOC is empowered to conduct an investigation but may simply issue you a “Right to Sue” letter (if the agency determines your evidence is credible). Once that letter is received, you have 90 days to file a civil lawsuit. If you fail to take legal action within that time period, you lose your right to seek redress under federal law.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale, Florida Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney for Legal Advice
Pregnancy discrimination is repugnant and inexcusable. Pregnancy is a fundamental aspect of our society. It is a blessing, not a burden. If you or a loved one is being subjected to pregnancy discrimination, you need to understand and protect your rights. Call Mark J. Berkowitz, P.A., at (954) 527-0570 to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale pregnancy discrimination attorney.