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Friday, January 25, 2019

$3.5 Million Settlement Highlights Issue Of When Pregnancy May Be A Disability - Have You Faced Pregnancy Discrimination?

A New York Times investigation revealed that many of the nation’s largest companies continue to sideline or discriminate against pregnant women. Both stories highlight the need to seek legal counsel from a New York disability insurance lawyer if you believe your legal rights were violated or you believe you are entitled to disability benefits.

Cato Corporation Settles EEOC Case


According to the Forbes article, the EEOC conducted a nationwide investigation into allegations of discrimination by the Cato Corporation against employees with disabilities and pregnant women. In part, the company was accused of firing or requiring women to take unpaid leave when they were pregnant or had a disability. The company was also accused of failing to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees.


Cato settled the case for $3.5 million. The company is also required to update its policies related to reasonable accommodations and provide additional training for its employees. This settlement could indicate a shift in court decisions involving pregnancy and discrimination.

Laws That Protect Pregnant Women in the Workplace


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act generally prohibit employers from treating pregnant women differently from employees with other medical conditions. For example, employers are generally required to hold a job open for pregnancy-related absences under the same conditions it would hold a job open for employees who are on leave because they are sick. 


The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers from taking certain actions against an employee, such as denying a promotion, based on the employee’s pregnancy. However, the laws do not always prevent employers from taking discriminatory actions against pregnant employees, such as refusing pregnant women the same accommodations and rights as other employees with a disabling condition. 

Proving Discrimination Under the ADA

To prove discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you must demonstrate that you are disabled according to the definition provided within the statute. The courts judge disability on a case-by-case basis. However, EEOC regulations include mental or physical impairments related to the reproductive system. Therefore, the question in these cases is whether a pregnancy-related condition meets the qualifications for a disability under the ADA.


Historically, many courts ruled that pregnancy-related conditions were not disabilities before Congress amended the ADA in 2008. Even after the amendments in 2008 expanded the ADA’s definition of disability, many courts continued to rule that pregnancy-related conditions were not disabilities.


However, some federal courts have ruled that pregnancy-related conditions may fall within the ADA’s definition of disability. The courts have ruled that the pregnancy must result in a medical condition that causes an impairment separate from the conditions associated with a healthy pregnancy or the condition causes symptoms associated with a healthy pregnancy to intensify significantly to meet the requirements for a disabling condition.

Call a New York Disability Benefit Lawyer If You Have Questions


If you believe you are entitled to disability benefits or you are the victim of discrimination because you are pregnant, a New York disability benefit lawyer may be able to help. Your first step is to consult an attorney to discuss the details of your specific case to determine your rights and options for legal recourse. Contact our New York disability lawyers today to discuss your case and see how we can help you get the benefits you are entitled to receive. You may have several legal options.

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