Women face many different struggles during pregnancy including discriminatory practices by their current and future employers. Refusing to be hired by an employer may be an unlawful practice as examined in a recent case heard in United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
A pregnant woman has certain rights under both federal and state law to protect them against employment discrimination. Under Massachusetts law, it is unlawful to discriminate based on sex/pregnancy. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, § 4.
In this case, the court found that plaintiff employee established she “was on maternity leave; that she was qualified for the position of general manager; that she was not hired as a general manager; and that the individual who was hired for the position, … had similar or lesser qualifications.” The defendant employer then argued that because the plaintiff employee could not start working immediately, not hiring her was a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for refusing to hire her.
The court denied the defendant employer’s argument holding:
“Defendant contends that its legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for refusing to hire plaintiff is that she could not start work immediately. … [T]here is at least a genuine dispute as to whether that was true. Construing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, defendant has failed to produce a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification for refusing to hire her.”
The court denied the employer’s motion for summary judgment, and the case will continue.
Pregnancy can be a difficult time for women in the workplace. However, it should not be a deterrent for women who are willing and able to work. If you believe you were refused employment during your pregnancy for an otherwise qualified position, you should act now. An employer cannot claim they refused to hire you because you could not begin working immediately.
Bennett v. Capital BC Restaurants, LLC, No. 13–10290–FDS, 2014 WL 5389563 (D. Mass. Oct. 23, 2014).