You can be laid off from your job while pregnant as long as the pregnancy was not a factor in making the layoff decision. If the company is laying off the last 15 people hired and you're one of those last 15 people then the pregnancy isn't going to protect you from being part of that layoff. However, if the company decides to only lay off the pregnant women then we have a problem. In general there's no prohibition on pregnant employees being subjected to workplace decisions based on pregnancy. You don't get some sort of special protection. It's not a shield.
What factors support a viable pregnancy-discrimination lawsuit?
There are several factors that can make up a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. It's always important to document any conversations that an employee has with the people making decisions about that person's employment. Ohio is a single party consent state for audio recording. Unless your workplace has special rules in the employee handbook or otherwise posted regarding a prohibition on recording people in the workplace then Ohio law is not going to prohibit it. Having actual evidence that pregnancy discrimination occurred is always better than a he said/she said situation, where it's just between the two participants to a conversation to say what occurred.
The most effective cases in a discrimination context are going to include hard evidence about what happened and an audio or video recording is a great way to demonstrate what actually occurred. Similarly, if a conversation takes place and an employee follows up by email saying, “Well you told me that because of my pregnancy I wasn't going to be given X Y or Z promotional opportunity.” documenting that is one additional way to show what actually happened. In a scenario where it's just one person's word against another, it's extremely difficult to carry an employee's burden of proving that the discrimination occurred.
How difficult is it to prove pregnancy discrimination against an employer?
There are different factors in the difficulty to prove pregnancy discrimination. Timing is an important characteristic and an important component of any type of proof. If you announce that you're pregnant and two days later you're demoted. The timing is suspicious there and one way you can show it is one of the circumstances that surround a decision. The better way to be able to prove that discrimination occurred is to have a recording of some kind. Other hard documentation such as emails or text messages that show that the pregnancy was part of the decision to do something to an employee in the workplace. It's always the employee’s burden to set forth the prima facie case of discrimination. You have to show evidence to suggest that your pregnancy was improperly considered as part of an employment decision.
For more information on Layoffs During Pregnancy In Ohio, please call our office today at (216) 578-1700 and speak with one of our intake specialists, or fill out our online contact form