After several visits to the emergency room and doctors appointments to treat a severe type of morning sickness, a Pennsylvania chiropractor was fired from her job before she could return to work. She missed only 11 days for the pregnancy complications and planned to return to work when the owner of her practice told her over the phone not to bother.
The woman never received a termination letter and discovered that her health insurance was cancelled within days of the phone call. She has filed a discrimination claim with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. She is also suing for pregnancy and sex discrimination.
The case is scheduled for a jury trial in May. It can take years for employees to get their day in court for this type of claim. In this case, the woman's child is now almost 5 years old.
Both the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are supposed to protect against this type of termination by employers, but guidelines and enforcement are inconsistent. The laws make it illegal to discriminate against a woman "because of pregnancy, childbirth or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth."
The woman has been unable to get another similar job, and lost her home and her ability to get health insurance. "No woman should ever have to lose her job, insurance and career because she gets pregnant," she said.
Her employer denies the allegations entirely, saying that the woman quit her job after the complications.
Source: ABC News, "New Jersey Woman Alleges Pregnancy Discrimination While EEOC calls for Updates to Laws, " Susanna Kim, Feb. 16, 2012.