Pennsylvania woman wins case alleging pregnancy discrimination

A Pennsylvania woman recently received monetary damages and back pay after she accused a company she worked for of firing her because she was pregnant. This case demonstrates some of the remedies that may be available when an employer wrongfully discriminates against a woman because of her gender, in violation of the Civil Rights Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Woman wins pregnancy discrimination case

The Pennsylvania Record reports that a woman from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was employed by the Center for Employment Management, a staffing firm, and placed with Purolite Corporation in mid-August 2009. In early October 2009, she told management at Purolite that she was pregnant, and on October 7, 2009, the woman was let go for "personal reasons." The corporation did not say anything further about why her employment was terminated, according to court documents.

The woman sued Purolite, alleging that the corporation fired her because she was pregnant, and that it violated the Civil Rights Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in doing so. The case went to trial and was heard in federal court in January 2013. After three days of trial, the jury awarded the woman $25,000 in compensatory damages and awarded $125,000 in punitive damages against Purolite. In addition, the woman received more than $11,000 in back pay, according to The Pennsylvania Record.

The Civil Rights Act

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from firing, refusing to hire or otherwise discriminating against "any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment" because of that individual's "race, color, religion, sex or national origin." The Civil Rights Act includes pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions in its definition of the terms "because of sex" and "on the basis of sex."

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed in 1978 to add pregnancy as a protected status under the Civil Rights Act. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act also prohibits employers from discriminating against a woman who is pregnant in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, leave and health insurance benefits.

Employment discrimination rights

Someone who believes he or she has been discriminated against by an employer because of his or her gender may be able to sue the employer for employment discrimination. If successful, the victim may be able to recover compensatory damages for his or her expenses caused by the discrimination, such as the costs of the search for a new job, and back pay he or she would have received in the position. Punitive damages also may be available if the employer acted recklessly or maliciously in its discrimination.

If you think you have suffered employment discrimination, contact an experienced employment discrimination attorney to learn more about your rights.