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Can my employer fire me because I’m pregnant?

The short answer to the above question is “no,” – but keep reading. As a female employee in Florida, you may face more pregnancy discrimination then you realize. Just last summer, one of the Walmart distribution centers in our neighboring state of Georgia forced a pregnant employee to take an unpaid leave

The woman, whose pregnancy was in its early stages, suffered an attack of morning sickness one morning and asked her male supervisor for permission to take an early break. He refused her request and told her she needed a note from her doctor in order for him to be able to give her any “special privileges.”

Walmart’s pregnancy policy

Shocked and angered, the woman nevertheless forewent her needed break and subsequently got a note from her doctor. It stated, among other things, that she should not lift heavy boxes and other items during her pregnancy. She thought nothing of this because she had often received such help from co-workers prior to her pregnancy.

Despite this prior history of co-worker assistance, when her supervisor read the doctor’s note, he immediately sent the woman to the human resources department. HR personnel told her that she must take an immediate unpaid leave because her pregnancy “posed a liability” for Walmart. In addition to her new shock and anger, the woman now also felt totally humiliated. Fearing that Walmart would fire her if she protested against the unpaid leave, she took it and did not return to work until after she gave birth.

EEOC lawsuits

During her forced unpaid leave, the woman sought the advice and counsel of a local advocacy organization that deals with family rights and employee discrimination. The organization immediately filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint on her behalf, alleging employment discrimination. It was the sixth such suit they had filed. EEOC records reveal that approximately 31,300 pregnant women filed pregnancy-related complaints between 2010 and 2015.

If you believe that your employer is discriminating against you because of your pregnancy or any other gender-based reason, your best strategy is to write down exactly what happened, when it happened, and how it negatively impacted your work. Then seek the necessary advice and counsel. You may well have a valid EEOC complaint and/or other workplace discrimination action.

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