Steps to Take if You Were Fired or Discriminated Against Because of Your Pregnancy
If you were fired or discriminated against because your are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, you may have a legitimate claim against your former employer for wrongful termination. The reason for your unjust firing could have been because you could not perform your job or because you requested pregnancy leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). These reasons are not just and may give you the right to file a lawsuit against your former employer. In order for your case of wrongful termination, your evidence must be direct or prove that it was more likely than not that your employer acted solely on the fact that you were pregnant. Here are some steps you can take and what to do if you were fired or discriminated against for being pregnant, or any other pregnancy-related issue. For more information regarding what a lawyer can do for you, contact our lawyers for a free consultation.
File Administrative Charge of Discrimination
If you are under the impression that your (former) employer violated state or federal laws that are meant to protect certain groups of people — like pregnant women, for example — like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and want to pursue legal action to rectify this disregard for the law, you will have to file a charge of discrimination with a government agency. You may have to file the complaint with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The EEOC is the federal agency which interprets and enforces the workplace discrimination laws in the country. Depending on where you file your claim, you have either 300 days or one year from the incident to file your charge.
You cannot file your lawsuit against your former employer until you have taken your claim to either EEOC or the DFEH. If you do not want to waste any time, you have the option to ask either branch to issue a “right-to-sue” letter. The Right-to-Sue is a document that confirms that you have met all obligations to file a charge with either agency. (EEOC and the DFEH act in unison and have a work-sharing agreement, so a claim filed with one agency is also filed with the other.) Once your letter is issued, time is of the essence because you only have 90 days to file your lawsuit based on federal (EEOC) claims, and one year under state (DFEH) claims.
If, however, you claim that your employer violated the FMLA or the CFRA, you have the option to go straight to court without filing a claim to any government agency.
Proving Pregnancy Discrimination
In order for your pregnancy discrimination case to win, you must prove that you were treated differently than your coworkers who were similarly disabled and that the difference in your treatment was due solely on your pregnancy. Whichever key facts you rely on, your burden remains the same as you are the one who is prosecuting your former employer: you must provide evidence showing that it is more likely not than not that your employer discriminated against you based on your pregnancy, or pregnancy-related issue.
There are two forms of evidence you can present: direct evidence, or circumstantial evidence.
What Compensation is Available to You for Your Pregnancy Discrimination Case
There are plenty of forms of compensation for damages you received for your wrongful termination that are available to you if you are to prove that your employer acted on unlawful grounds if you win your case.
You can ask the courts for them to order your former employer to give you your old job back — this is called “reinstatement.” But, often, the hostility between employee and employer is palpable and so courts generally do not like to do that. Instead, it is more likely to ask for monetary compensation for the harm that was done to you by the unlawful actions of your employer. Depending on the intricacies of your case, damages to which you are entitled may include such things as
- Lost benefits, back pay, and out-of-pocket expenses that you lost as a result of the wrongful termination;
- Front pay if reinstatement is not possible, feasible, or otherwise impractical;
- Attorney and court fees;
- Damages for the pain and suffering that were the result of your unlawful termination — which includes emotional distress, the effect caused by the employer’s actions;
- Punitive damages that are intended to punish your employer for their unjust and unlawful actions — this is only given in certain circumstances in which the employer intentionally acted maliciously or in some egregious way.
Hire a Lawyer
If you believe you were wrongfully terminated for discrimination and are thinking about filing a charge with the EEOC or DFEH, you should talk with an employment legal expert. Employment attorneys can assist your case and determine whether or not you have a strong enough case, what your claim might be worth if won, and how to best assert your rights.
An experienced lawyer can help you settle the case with your employer, attend all sessions and interview that are pertinent to your case, and represent you in court if an agreement is not reached in previous talks.
Free Consultation and Zero Fee Guarantee
If you were wrongfully terminated for pregnancy discrimination, you deserve to have a team of expert lawyers on your side to help represent you and get you the compensation to which you are entitled. Contact our law firm today for a free consultation. If we take your case, our law firm will not charge any upfront fees.