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Tuesday, 08 August 2017 00:00

When does work become discrimination for pregnant women?

Written by Jonathan Druckman

A recent NJ appeals court has ruled that a pregnant medical technician ordered to climb a ladder and wash windows could be a case of pregnancy discrimination.

Sanda Roopchand worked for a Doctor’s Office for two years in 2013 and 2014. In July of 2014, she reported to her employer that she was pregnant with a high risk pregnancy. One day on the job she allegedly overheard her superiors talking about how she had become a liability. Shortly thereafter, she was asked to clean windows in the office that stretched from the floor all the way up to the ceiling. Because of her height at 5’ 2” this task would require her to use a ladder to reach the upper portions of the windows. She refused to comply with her bosses’ order and after two more refusals she was terminated for insubordination. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act has been in place since 1978.

When Ms. Roopchand filed a discrimination lawsuit, the Court dismissed her case. The Trial Judge found that insubordination was a legitimate, nondiscriminatory, reason for her termination. However, an Appeals Court disagreed. Ms. Roopchand claimed that she was being required to perform a task outside of her job description that other, non-pregnant employee were not required to perform. The panel of Appeals Judges found that the Plaintiff had presented sufficient evidence of pregnancy discrimination to survive a motion for summary judgment.

The case is set to go to trial in the fall unless a settlement can be reached.

As with any discrimination claim, pregnancy related discrimination can be hard to prove. The law makes it clear that employers cannot retaliate against an individual for speaking up for their rights. If you suspect that you are being discriminated against, you should keep a journaled entry log of all events and comments including the date and who was present. By doing so, you will be able to protect yourself in the event that your employer tries to wrongfully terminate your employment.

If you believe you have been a victim of discrimination on the job, please call us at 908-353-5850 for a free consultation.

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