Are Women Protected From Termination For Considering Having An Abortion?
Through their decades of experience fighting for employee rights, our pregnancy discrimination lawyers in Marion County, Florida know that many employees may not be aware of the broad protection afforded to women by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). Under the PDA, employers are prohibited from discriminating against women on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related medical conditions. The PDA’s protection from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy-related medical conditions is the statutory basis for the expansive protection afforded to women by the PDA.
In interpreting the PDA, courts have construed the protection from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy-related medical conditions broadly. For example, courts have determined that postpartum depression is a pregnancy-related medical condition and employers are prohibited from discriminating against a woman because she had postpartum depression. Courts have also ruled that morning sickness is a pregnancy-related medical condition and employers are forbidden from discriminating against a woman because she had morning sickness. Courts have further determined that an abortion is a pregnancy-related medical condition and employers are prohibited from discriminating against a woman because she has had an abortion.
In this article, our pregnancy discrimination lawyers in Marion County, Florida explain how the decision in Turic v. Holland Hospitality, Inc., 85 F.3d 1211 (6th Cir. 1996) demonstrates that the PDA’s expansive protection from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy-related medical conditions prohibits employers from discriminating against women because they contemplated having an abortion.
Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit
In that case, a woman named Turic brought a pregnancy discrimination claim against her former employer, Holland Hospitality, Inc. (Holland Hospitality), pursuant to the PDA. Turic claimed that Holland Hospitality violated the PDA by firing her because she contemplated having an abortion.
The trial court found that Turic’s contemplated abortion, which precipitated a controversy among other employees, was a motivating factor for her termination. The trial court credited evidence that Turic’s initial disciplining occurred only after other employees became aware that she was contemplating having an abortion. The record also reflected that poor job performance was not discussed during a meeting with Turic. At trial, supervisors admitted that they had later edited Turic’s personnel file and “expounded” on the record to add derogatory information about Turic’s prior failure to properly call in sick and her failure to fill coffee pots. After viewing Holland Hospitality’s witnesses and weighing their testimony, the trial court assigned greater credibility to Turic’s evidence. Having assigned greater credibility to Turic’s evidence, the trial court concluded that Turic was discharged because she was considering having an abortion.
Importantly, Turic did not claim, nor did the trial court find, that she was terminated because she had an abortion. In fact, Turic did not terminate her pregnancy, but carried it to term. Rather, Turic’s claim, and the trial court’s conclusion, was that she was fired because she contemplated having an abortion.
Cannot Be Fired For Considering An Abortion
On appeal before the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Holland Hospitality argued that the trial court erred as a matter of law in ruling that the PDA prohibits employers from terminating women because they contemplated having an abortion. Because the PDA provides no protection against discrimination for considering an abortion, according to Holland Hospitality, any decision to fire Turic because she contemplated having an abortion did not violate the PDA. The Sixth Circuit rejected Holland Hospitality’s argument and upheld the trial court’s ruling that Turic was unlawfully fired in violation of the PDA for considering having an abortion.
In rejecting Holland Hospitality’s argument, the Sixth Circuit looked to the legislative history of the PDA. The legislative history of the PDA provides that because the PDA “applies to all situations in which women are ‘affected by pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions,’ its basic language covers women who choose to terminate their pregnancies.” Thus, according to the legislative history of the PDA, “no employer may, for example, fire or refuse to hire a woman simply because she has exercised her right to have an abortion.” Thus, the Sixth Circuit concluded that “an employer who discriminates against a female employee, because she exercised her right to have an abortion, violates [the PDA].”
Having determined that women are protected from discrimination because they had an abortion, the Sixth Circuit explained that “a woman’s right to have an abortion encompasses more than simply the act of having an abortion; it includes the contemplation of an abortion, as well.” The appellate court reasoned that because “an employer cannot take adverse employment action against a female employee for her decision to have an abortion, it follows that the same employer also cannot take adverse employment action against a female employee for merely thinking about what she has a right to do.” Thus, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the trial court’s conclusion that the PDA “applies to the action of Holland Hospitality in discharging Turic” because she contemplated having an abortion.
Free Consultation For Discrimination Victims
One of the most important decisions pregnancy discrimination victims must make is which pregnancy discrimination attorneys to consult with regarding their employee rights under federal employment discrimination law. As part of our commitment to helping pregnancy discrimination victims, an experienced pregnancy discrimination lawyer will speak with you personally and you will receive the individualized attention your case deserves. We offer free confidential case evaluations for employees, and you will not have to pay to speak with our pregnancy discrimination lawyers regarding your employee rights. We are available for consultation at your convenience, including scheduling telephone consultations for evenings and weekends.
Marion County Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers
Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Florida, our pregnancy discrimination attorneys in Marion County, Florida have dedicated their practice to fighting for the rights of employment discrimination victims. If you experienced pregnancy discrimination at work or have questions about your rights as a pregnant employee, please contact our office for a free consultation with our pregnancy discrimination lawyers in Marion County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes pregnancy discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.