Citing recent decisions from within the Second Circuit, New York federal Judge J. Paul Oetken found that protection from pregnancy discrimination extends to include recently pregnant women in addition to pregnant women:
Katherine Albin alleged viable pregnancy discrimination claims against Thomas Pink Inc., its corporate parent LVMH Moet Louis Vuitton Inc., and two supervisors under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and New York state and city law, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said. It found that the promotion denial may have occurred three and a half months after Albin gave birth to her first child.
Judge J. Paul Oetken cited emerging case law within the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit holding that women who are four months or less removed from giving birth are still protected by Title VII's prohibition against pregnancy discrimination."
While observing that at some point after a pregnancy ends protection from pregnancy discrimination also comes to an end:
"[P]regnant women, women who very recently gave birth, and women on maternity leave are unquestionably within the protected class of pregnant persons, 'at some point in time such women are no longer 'affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions' and, thus, are not protected.'" (internal citations omitted) (link)
the court found that protection generally continues for approximately four months after a pregnancy:
"Distinguishing among previously pregnant women to determine who is still affected by pregnancy requires selecting a temporal cutoff based on the facts of the given case. While ultimately dependent on the factual situation of a specific claim, a pattern has developed in this Circuit establishing a loose line at approximately four months from the date of birth." (internal citations omitted) (link)
In my view, along with age and disability discrimination, pregnancy discrimination is one of the more prevalent forms of discrimination today. Unlike explicit race and gender discrimination, pregnancy discrimination (in its varied forms) does not carry the same heavy stigma and is surprisingly prevalent.
Unfortunately, although prevalent, it is often unrecognized and/or unreported.
This decision goes a long way to help advance anti-discrimination protections for pregnant and recently pregnant employees.
Princeton HealthCare System, which operates the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro and several other medical facilities, will pay $1.35 million and will undertake significant remedial measures to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced today.
The EEOC’s suit alleged that the hospital’s fixed leave policy failed to consider leave as a reasonable accommodation, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the EEOC, Princeton HealthCare’s leave policy merely tracked the requirements of the federal Family Medical Leave Act and employee leaves were limited to a maximum of 12 weeks. The policy meant that employees who were not eligible for leave were fired after being absent for a short time, and many more were fired once they were out more than 12 weeks.
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey after attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Under the consent decree settling the suit, approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Arpert, the hospital is prohibited from having a blanket policy that limits the amount of leave time an employee covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act may take.
. . .
Princeton HealthCare also agreed that it will not subject employees to progressive discipline for ADA-related absences, and will provide training on the Americans with Disabilities Act to its workforce. (link)