It is illegal to fire an employee simply because she becomes pregnant. In one wrongful termination suit that's finally come to an end in New Jersey, this is exactly what the plaintiff said occurred. The charges of wrongful termination and ensuing legal actions ultimately earned her a settlement of $55,000 as a result.
The woman's suit stems from her being fired from Trane U.S. during the last few weeks she was pregnant. She says she had to take medical leave because of her condition, as per her doctor's orders. She also claims that she was let go as a direct result.
As she explains, Trane denied her request to take medical leave for prenatal care and then terminated her from the payroll. Though she was seemingly vindicated with the $55,000 settlement, the settlement allows Trane to abstain from admitting any wrongdoing in the incident. Still, Trane has to pay an additional $15,000 to the Division on Civil Rights as a result of the agreement, as well as redo its antidiscrimination policies to ensure a similar occurrence will not happen in the future.
In early 2014, New Jersey updated its discrimination laws to include pregnant women as a protected class in the workplace. Therefore, any pregnant woman who finds herself experiencing a wrongful termination that is a direct result of her being pregnant may wish to pursue a legal claim against her former employer. As this case shows, settlements can be reached without necessitating a trial. Understandably, courts are serious about upholding the laws that are in place to keep employers from taking unfair advantage of their workers.
Source: nj.com, "Ewing resident paid $55,000 by former employer in pregnancy-related discrimination case", James McEvoy, August 4, 2014