In 2014, a $187 million in punitive damages were awarded by a federal jury to a female employee that her employer discriminated against her, demoted her after she became pregnant and later fired her. Punitive damages are awarded to punish companies for bad acts, in this case discrimination. There are numerous laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace. The Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Affordable Care Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act all prohibit discrimination in one form or another for numerous groups.
A recent study from the Center for Worklife Law found that the number of lawsuits pertaining to discrimination related to pregnancy or caring for a family member tripled from 2006 to 2015. Of those cases 67 percent were in favor of the employee who received nearly $500 million in verdicts and settlements.
It is believed that Americans are shouldering more of the burden of caring for family members. Around 44 million adults provide unpaid care to other adults or children with special needs. And the fact is, caring for an elderly or disabled family member can be expensive and time-consuming. And as these care-taking workers begin to make up more of the workforce, more employers will need to accommodate their familial obligations.
If your employer discriminated against you because you were pregnant, are caring for a family member or for some other reason related to your family then you may have an actionable discrimination claim. An attorney can go over the details of these claims and whether or not it is a good idea to file a lawsuit or pursue an alternative dispute method. Everyone has the right to work and care for their family.
Source: CBS News, “Homefront pressures have workplace lawsuit soaring,” Anna Robaton, May 23, 2016