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Pregnant Florida workers protected from workplace discrimination

A new ruling on workplace discrimination has been made by the Supreme Court in Florida. The Court held that employers are not allowed to discriminate against pregnant workers under state law. According to the court's opinion, the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 protects pregnant women from workplace discrimination. This, of course, is in addition to the legal rights that have already been assured by federal laws.

Many readers of this blog might have assumed that workplace discrimination laws already protected pregnant women. Indeed, common sense dictates that pregnant women should not be subjected to job loss or other ill treatment simply because they are going to give birth. However, that has been a somewhat murky area of the law. Thankfully, the courts have ruled in favor of pregnant women.

According to the opinion, pregnancy is a bodily condition that is natural and a unique and primary characteristic of the female sex. The court referenced the Florida Civil Rights Act, as well, which provides that employers cannot treat someone differently on the basis of that person being an individual. It also referenced legislative intent and past case law.

According to the plaintiff in this litigation, her employer started to treat her differently while she was pregnant. She says that her employer became more critical of her work, would not let her cover shifts for coworkers and would not let her change her own shifts. Further, she alleged that her employer refused to put her back on the work schedule when she returned to work after having her baby.

The favorable result achieved in this case is yet another example of how workplace discrimination laws are being expanded in Florida and other states to protect workers from pregnancy discrimination. On the federal level, such discrimination has already been outlawed and clearly defined, both under The Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. It is encouraging to see that individual states are also coming on board with similar laws to further protect the rights of these workers. Those workers facing this pernicious form of discrimination have the legal right to seek enforcement of applicable state and federal laws.

Source: jurist.org, "Florida supreme court rules discrimination against pregnant women violates state law", Kimberly Bennett, April 18, 2014

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