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What Makes a Good Pregnancy Discrimination Case

Posted by David P. Martin | Apr 18, 2024 | 0 Comments

Many potential clients (PCs) strongly believe that because of pregnancy and adverse action taken against her necessarily means she has a good case. She may well doubt your resolve.  A good checklist can help sift this. So what exactly makes a good pregnancy discrimination case? 

First, the employer must have 15 or more employees. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–(k). Pregnancy discrimination by an employer with less than 15 employees may not “look good” but it doesn't violate federal law.

Second, the PC must show she belongs to a protected class. She must be the one employed and pregnant.

Third, she must be subject to adverse employment action such as termination, transfer or demotion etc. Lewis v. City of Union City, 918 F.3d 1213 (11th Cir. 2019).

Fourth, she must be qualified to do the job. Holland v. Gee, 677 F.3d 1047 (11th Cir. 2012).

Fifth, her employer treated "similarly situated" employees outside her class more favorably. Lewis.

Sixth, if the employer can assert a non-discriminatory reason for the action taken, is there evidence to demonstrate that this is a pretext?  The burden-shifting framework of McDonnell Douglas is used. Lewis.

But what if the pregnancy was making it difficult for the employee to perform her job? Can she still have a case? It depends. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act  (42 U.S.C. § 2000gg) tracks the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and adds protections for pregnant applicants and employees. This still applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Reasonable accommodations are required for pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. So what is necessary for this type of case?

First, did the employee request an accommodation? If she did not she may have no case unless she can show she had a justifiable belief that the employer would never grant such a request.  E.E.O.C. v. Joe's Stone Crabs, Inc., 296 F.3d 1265, 1274 (11th Cir. 2002).

Second, is the accommodation reasonable?  Providing the exact accommodation necessary is not required but it is required that the process be interactive and conducted in good faith by both parties. The definition of reasonable accommodation that is found in 42 U.S.C. § 12111.

There are a number of hoops to jump through in order to demonstrate a good case that will survive a motion for summary judgment.  This provide a checklist and starting point in your PC interview. If you have thoughts to add to this by all means please share!


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David P. Martin

Senior & Managing Attorney


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