When concern for pregnant employees goes too farSome employers go to great lengths to show they care about their employees, and such consideration will usually be appreciated. However, that’s not to say employers can’t go too far in their efforts to look out for employees.
By: By Katie Loehrke/J. J. Keller & Associates, Superior Telegram
Some employers go to great lengths to show they care about their employees, and such consideration will usually be appreciated. However, that’s not to say employers can’t go too far in their efforts to look out for employees.
In one recent court case, a pregnant employee who worked as a restaurant events coordinator developed complications related to her pregnancy. She was away from her job and under medical care for two weeks. When the employee was cleared by her doctor to return to work, her employer told her that “the best thing for her unborn child was not to return to work during her pregnancy.”
Disagreeing with the employer’s opinion about her ability to work, the employee repeatedly inquired about when she could return. She reminded the employer that a doctor had cleared her to work, and mentioned that she felt she was being discriminated against.
Still, the employee was not told when she could return to work, and ultimately, she was fired.
The employee brought a lawsuit against her employer, alleging pregnancy discrimination and retaliation. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that both claims could go to trial. (McSweeney v. Dinner’s Served, No. 10-2210, SD TX, 2010)
It is possible that pregnant employees will require special consideration, but if an employee requires time off because of pregnancy, this request should not be initiated by the employer. Employers may not prevent pregnant employees from working if they are otherwise able to perform their jobs.
Katie Loehrke is an associate editor at J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., a compliance resource firm which offers products and services to address the responsibilities held by human resources and corporate professionals.