Pregnancy discrimination lawsuits are on the rise

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2021 | Employment Law

Many women in Missouri decide to continue working through their pregnancies. Whether a pregnant woman’s reason to remain employed is personal or financial, her employer is legally obligated to respect it. Pregnant employees are protected from workplace discrimination and can sue their employers if they are fired due to pregnancy.

Pregnancy discrimination lawsuits are on the rise

Bloomberg Law looked at data from 2016 through 2020 and found that there has been an increase in federal pregnancy discrimination lawsuits each year. While there were 235 cases filed in 2016, that number rose to just under 400 in 2020. Researchers say that there are likely to be more than 400 pregnancy discrimination lawsuits filed by the end of 2021.

Researchers baffled by the numbers

Researchers do not have clear answers about the reason behind the rising number of pregnancy discrimination lawsuits. One of the things researchers don’t understand is how these types of lawsuits could be on the rise while birth rates are declining simultaneously.

Another surprising fact is that in 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission temporarily stopped its practice of issuing Right to Sue notices after completing workplace discrimination investigations. This means that the increase in pregnancy discrimination complaints in 2020 occurred despite a five-month pause in lawsuit filings.

Some possible explanations

Researchers have some guesses as to why pregnancy discrimination lawsuits continue to rise despite declining birth rates. The first is that during an economic downturn, unemployed individuals are more likely to sue their former employers. When finding a new job after being fired is very difficult, it might be important to pursue compensation for wrongful termination.

Another reason that researchers believe pregnancy discrimination lawsuits are rising is because of increasing job loss. During the last year and a half, pregnant employees may have been especially vulnerable to discrimination while their workplaces cut staff and went out of business.