The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York recently ruled that a woman who was denied a promotion to a management position was eligible to proceed with discrimination claims against her company. According to the judge, a woman who has given birth within four months of a perceived issue is still protected against pregnancy-related employment discrimination. He noted in his decision that women are clearly protected if they are pregnant or on maternity leave. If a woman was recently pregnant, details are not quite as clear in terms of how long after a pregnancy the protections remain in place. However, the judge noted that the pattern that has been observed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit uses four months as the cutoff point.
The woman reportedly indicated her interest in the management position in question after returning from maternity leave. The store’s pattern for filling similar positions involved a time for a new manager to train with a previous manager, but in this case, the outgoing manager’s employment reportedly concluded prior to the woman having an interview for the position. She indicated that she acted in the role temporarily in the interim. Another candidate was allegedly interviewed, but the woman indicated that her interview was not scheduled until she asked about the status of her request for the position.
At the time of her interview, it appeared that the decision had been made, an issue reportedly confirmed by the arrival of the new manager’s paycheck in the same week. The judge noted that the alleged violations of various laws, including Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, fell within a reasonable time frame for her protections to still be relevant.
It may be difficult for an individual to decide whether discrimination has occurred in the workplace because of pregnancy. However, a lawyer may be helpful in evaluating perceived instances of discrimination.
Source: Bloomberg BNA, “Worker With Baby Under Four Months Still Protected Under Pregnancy Bias Law”, July 14, 2014