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Can You Sue Your Employer for Premature Birth?

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Q:

Can You Sue Your Employer for Premature Birth?

A:

In most instances, suing your employer over a premature child birth will result in a summary judgement case dismissal. In short, the cause for the premature birth must be clearly stated, and in states like Florida, the suit requires "scientific" and usually quantifiable material case evidence. Some states do not accept the opinion of an obstetrician as expert testimony without some supporting documentation.

An example would be claiming the premature birth was the result of stress at work. Stress does not necessarily establish standing to sue, largely because the pregnant employee was paid for working, and stress is often a general component of job responsibilities. However, there are legal situations that involve other extenuating material case facts that could establish standing to sue if there is a failure to provide a reasonable duty of care that can be attributed to the employer.

Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination occurs regularly across all industries in the U.S. economy. Even clerical workers can experience unfair treatment while pregnant, even though their particular job duties are not considered physically demanding. There are also certain types of employment that can be reasonably argued as inappropriate for expectant mothers.

The decision to allow a pregnant employee to continue working during the pregnancy term is not necessarily determined by the employee because the possibility for a personal injury claim still exists. But, if an employer demands that a pregnant employee continue working during the pregnancy, there could easily be a claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act, or potentially a worker's compensation claim. The premature childbirth issue is a material case fact, but the real legal issue is coercion and harassment if there is a threat of employment termination.

Manufactured Reasons for Termination

Pregnancy discrimination in the form of justified termination can easily occur from an employer with the hidden reason for termination being the pregnancy. But, a premature birth damage claim can also be case evidence as the result of some other negligent or illegal act by your employer. It is important to remember that the U.S. employment market is an "at will" working relationship employment market. A worker who is not under a specific employment contract can quit working at any time.

Likewise, as long as an employer does not directly break any laws in a termination process, a discharge can be legal and binding with very little chance of damage recovery if crafted properly. In addition, anytime you must use that particular employment in the future as a prior employer, the potentially new employer may want to make contact. Most employers now require applicants to forfeit slander and liable legal standing claims from your former employer's statements, so suing employers over frivolous claims can be problematic later in life.

Light-Duty Employment Status

In many ways, a pregnant worker is a specific class of disabled employee. While the condition is clearly temporary, an employer may choose to alter a pregnant worker's job responsibilities until the employee can return to full physical work.

While this may not be popular with some co-workers, if the employer makes accommodations for other disabled employees, then it can be a reasonable claim that a pregnant worker could be afforded the same designation. Remember, the employer will probably not be required to provide this assignment if they claim that they are still vulnerable to suit over a pregnancy-related problem.

Contact an Experienced Discrimination Attorney

Legal cases that involve a premature child birth can be very complicated matters, and all employers will defend the claims vigorously in almost every situation. Having a comprehensive and aggressive personal injury or discrimination attorney is the only method to recover in a complicated case, as your legal counsel will have the authority and qualifications to conduct their own investigation and look for potential legal issues revolving around the pregnancy issue. This is especially true when pregnancy discrimination is occurring as an underlying agenda for an employer who is attempting to generate a legal reason for termination.

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