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Pregnancy Discrimination and Harassment

The inherent difficulty of balancing the arrival of a new child and a career can become even more challenging when an employee faces discrimination at work. In Maine, it is illegal for an employer to harass or discriminate a woman based on her pregnancy. Discrimination may include harassment, sexual, or inappropriate comments, teasing, or anything that may exemplify a hostile and offensive work environment or space. This law extends to any employer, supervisor, or fellow employee.

Additionally, in Maine, certain men and women who are expecting a child may be entitled to take up to 10 weeks of family medical leave for the birth or adoption of a child (under the age of 16).

Under the Maine Family Medical Leave Act (MFML), every employee is entitled to 10 weeks of unpaid leave in any 2 year period, as long as they have worked for their employer for 12 consecutive months and there are at least 15 employees on staff. In order to obtain MFML an employee must give at least 30 days of notice of his or her intended parental leave, unless prevented by a medical emergency from giving notice. An employer may also require certification of the need for parental leave from a physician.

Under federal law, employees who have worked for 12 consecutive months with an employer who has at least 50 employees, may be entitled to up to 12 weeks unpaid family medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Federal law also offers protections for women under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), an employer may not discriminate based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including:

  • hiring;
  • firing;
  • pay;
  • job assignments;
  • promotions;
  • layoffs;
  • training;
  • fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance; and
  • any other term or condition of employment.

Additionally, under the Americans with Disability Act, if a woman becomes temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical complication related to pregnancy or childbirth (such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia), the employer must treat her in the same way as it treats any other temporarily disabled employee. This means that the employer may be required to provide reasonable accommodation for a disability related to pregnancy.

Pregnancy discrimination in Maine can be difficult to prove. Often these claims involve circumstantial evidence rather than direct proof. Although a boss may make negative comments about your pregnancy or remarks about your time off from work, the evidence of discrimination may not always be so clear. The Maine Employee Rights Group has handled numerous cases of pregnancy discrimination, harassment and denial of pregnancy leave with significant results for our satisfied customers. Our attorneys will consider such factors as the history of terminations surrounding pregnancy in the company, the time between your announcement of pregnancy and the termination of your position, as well as other factors such as the reason given by the employer for your termination. At the Maine Employee Rights Group we have the experience to effectively handle pregnancy discrimination claims involving complex evidentiary matters.

If you believe you are a victim of pregnancy discrimination, or have been terminated while pregnant or immediately after you have given birth, you may have a legal claim for pregnancy discrimination. Contact us online or call 207.874.0905 to discuss your rights and potential legal remedies.