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Pregnancy in the Workplace: Handling Restroom Breaks

Pregnancy is an exciting time for most women, but for working women, being pregnant at work can be stressful. While the law does not allow pregnant women to be discriminated against, many women still experience it in some form.

Let’s face it: Pregnancy is no easy task. A woman can expect to gain 25 pounds or more during this time. This can often lead to a pregnancy disability, which may require some accommodation on behalf of the employer. Some accommodations are easy, such as limiting lifting heavy objects, allowing her to sit down more often and allowing her to leave early for doctor’s appointments.

What if a woman requires frequent bathroom breaks and this is difficult because she is a teacher? Read on to learn about a recent case that involves this situation.

Case Law: Wadley v. Kiddie Academy International, Inc.

In the court case Wadley v. Kiddie Academy International, Inc., a pregnant woman filed a lawsuit against the company she worked for after she was fired for leaving the classroom to use the restroom. The woman suffered frequent urinary tract infections in her previous pregnancy and it led to a miscarriage. Therefore, when she became pregnant again, she received a doctor’s note stating that she would need to take frequent bathroom breaks to prevent this situation from occurring again.

The woman, a teacher, was the only one assigned to a room one day. She asked for help, but did not receive it until a co-worker covered her so she could go on a bathroom break. The woman was later fired for being “out of ratio” and leaving the classroom, even though she had someone covering for her.

What are pregnant employee rights in this case? The woman filed a lawsuit under both Title VII and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The lawsuit under Title VII was dismissed because the situation did not appear to be a gender issue, where a man was treated more favorably than a woman. The lawsuit, however, was allowed under the ADA because even though pregnancy by itself it not considered a disability, the woman’s situation is considered a disability because it affects a major bodily function.

What the Law Says

Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a pregnant woman who suffers a medical condition due to her pregnancy can receive an accommodation from her employer. A woman should be able to receive an accommodation under the ADA. Given that the woman required frequent bathroom breaks for urinary tract infections, she would be covered due to a major bodily function being affected, such as her bladder/urination. The employer would be ordered to accommodate the woman unless it would result in extreme difficulty or expense.

Contact a New York Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer

As a woman, you are entitled to pregnancy rights at work. You should not be subject to discrimination or harassment during this time. While pregnancy in the workplace can be a challenge, communication from both sides can make it easier.

The experienced New York pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. can help you understand your legal rights. Your employer has the obligation to make accommodations for any medical condition you have during your pregnancy. If you are facing discrimination, we can help.  Contact our office and schedule a free consultation by calling (347)-464-8694.

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