Many employees are thrilled to have a job in this difficult economy. When their employer asks them to do something, they do it without complaint. They understand that if they do anything to draw negative attention, they may soon find themselves out of work.
In Texas, employment is considered to be at will. This means that the employer can bring an end to the employer-employee relationship at any time for any reason, if there is no contract stating the duration of the employment. In most situations, the employees that were terminated will have no recourse against the employers.
However, if the decision to terminate was made for discriminatory reasons, the employee may be able to pursue a claim against their employers, in certain circumstances. This will often depend upon the number of employees, as smaller companies may have different requirements in place.
A recent Texas case has brought increased attention to claims based on pregnancy discrimination. In this example, a woman who worked for an oil and gas company was terminated after she had suffered a miscarriage.
The employee had wanted to take time off to obtain medical treatment. After the woman's request, she was terminated by the company. The woman sued her employer, alleging that she was discriminated against because of the pregnancy-related condition. The suit was recently settled in favor of the employee.
As this case demonstrates, those employers that do not comply with state and federal rules may find themselves liable for damages to the employee. To state a claim for discrimination, the employee must be able to satisfy all of the elements in order to proceed. These elements include:
- The employee must be a member of a protected class,
- The employee was qualified for the current position,
- The employee was terminated or suffered an adverse employment action, and
- Other similarly situated employees did not suffer the same result.
In many pregnancy discrimination cases, the main issue concerns the lack of reasonable accommodations provided by the employer. This means that the employer is responsible for creating a plan that allows the employee to keep her job while also being able to take any leave that is necessary due to the pregnancy. This may even include changing the employee's job duties during this period.
If you feel that your employer has discriminated against you because of your pregnancy, you should speak to an experienced employment law attorney about your options. These can be extremely complicated cases, and it is important to work with someone who understands the issues that often develop.