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Minnesota case law cited in pregnancy discrimination case

The issue of pregnancy discrimination has arisen in various workplaces across the nation. In a recent case, the Florida Supreme Court relied on Minnesota case law to establish that pregnancy discrimination is a form of gender discrimination under Florida's Civil Rights Act. Even though federal laws have made it explicit that pregnant women are protected, some states have failed to enact specific laws that include pregnancy.

The woman who filed the lawsuit alleges that when she returned to work after maternity leave, she was turned down for extra shifts and was not assigned work. Although Florida does not specifically include the word pregnancy in the state's civil rights statute, it does make gender discrimination unlawful. The court reasoned that because pregnancy is necessarily confined to one gender, the act does protect women from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. The recent ruling indicates that the state needs to move forward to make the word pregnancy part of the statute. A bill was recently sponsored and awaits a decision on its passage.

When a female employee believes she is being discriminated against in the workplace based on pregnancy, she may have the right to file a lawsuit against the employer. The discrimination might cause her to lose wages or cause her additional damages. Filing a suit could provide compensation to cover these damages.

When employment discrimination occurs, it is important for the employee to report it and document the situation. To better understand the process and what options one has, it is often useful to seek legal guidance. This will also help ensure one's rights are protected.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Florida Court Finds Law Protects Against Pregnancy Discrimination," Steven Miller, April 21, 2014

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