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New Jersey woman sues former employer for pregnancy discrimination

A New Jersey woman is suing her former employer, a small chiropractor business, for pregnancy discrimination, according to national news reports. The woman filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stating that her employer fired her because she missed 11 days of work to deal with a pregnancy complication.

Under employment law, both the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, women are protected from experiencing pregnancy discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 specifically states that it is illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy or childbirth, or a medical condition in relation to either of these things.

The woman in this case said that she missed several days of work because of a severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. After 11 days, she called her employer to tell them that she was coming back into work, but to her surprise the employer told her not to come back, according to the complaint. The employer then cancelled the worker's health insurance and very soon after hired a replacement.

Most cases like these are dealt with out of court in mediation and arbitration, but this case is going to a jury trial in May.

The small employer is countering that under the Family and Medical Leave Act maternity leave is only required of employers who have 50 or more employee. The employer also states that it did not fire the woman, and rather that she quit. In turn, the employer has filed a counter-suit asking for $50,000.

The woman was under a four-year contract which said that if she quit she would owe the company $50,000.

Pregnancy discrimination is still a very real issue in today's American workplace and far too many women face this issue. Those who do have a right to pursue legal recourse.

Source: ABC News, "New Jersey Woman Alleges Pregnancy Discrimination While EEOC Calls for Updates to Laws," Susanna Kim, Feb. 16, 2012

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