Pregnancy Protections For Delaware Employees

Pregnant workers have state and federal protections. If an employer breaks the law, pregnant workers have legal options.

Starting or expanding a family should be an occasion for celebration. Unfortunately, some workers still experience pregnancy discrimination, a fact recently highlighted by a widely watched case before the U.S. Supreme Court. In Young v. UPS, a UPS worker claimed pregnancy discrimination because the nation's leading common carrier would not accommodate "light work" duty for its pregnant employees.

The issue in the case is whether the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act prevents employers from refusing to allow accommodations to pregnant workers. Lower courts have narrowly interpreted federal law regarding whether employers must treat pregnant workers similarly to other workers with short-term disabilities.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the case in December but has yet to issue an opinion on the matter. However, in Delaware, state law already specifically prevents employers from discriminating against pregnant employees. The Delaware Pregnant Workers Fairness Act passed with large support in 2014 and was signed into law shortly after.

Among its protections, the new law requires employers to allow pregnant workers more frequent bathroom breaks, the right to drink water on the job, accommodate workers who cannot lift heavy objects on recommendation of a doctor, and provide other reasonable accommodations. According to the co-sponsor of the bill, State Senator Bethany Hall-Long, such reasonable accommodations may be as little as providing a stool for workers otherwise be forced to stand on the job. In an op-ed to the Delaware News-Journal, Sen. Hall-Long wrote that "[t]he Act makes it absolutely unmistakable: pregnancy discrimination is illegal in Delaware, and employers must reasonably accommodate pregnant workers."

Pregnant workers also will not be forced to take unpaid leave. Federal law has long prohibited employers from terminating employees solely on the basis of pregnancy.

Employees who have experienced discrimination have legal options

In Delaware, the law clearly states pregnant workers have the right to continue employment regardless of pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition. Unfortunately, employers still break the law and illegally terminate pregnant workers.

There are civil remedies available for workers who suffered from pregnancy discrimination. Through a civil lawsuit, such workers can receive reinstatement to a position from which they were illegally terminated, obtain back pay, and potentially receive other damages. In addition, a civil lawsuit can help ensure that other pregnant workers have their rights under the law respected in the future.

Attorney Martin D. Haverly has experience representing workers who have encountered workplace discrimination. Delaware employees concerned that their rights were violated should contact Martin D. Haverly, attorney at law, to discuss their legal options.

Keywords: Pregnancy discrimination, Delaware Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, workplace discrimination lawsuit, Pregnancy Discrimination Act