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SPLF Employment Blog

Chesapeake NetCraftsmen Sued After Firing Woman Due to Pregnancy

Many types of discrimination are illegal under federal law, such as discrimination based on race, age, disability, and pregnancy. However, many states also have their own antidiscrimination laws. One such state is Maryland. The Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA) prohibits, among other things, discrimination based on pregnancy.

Sara Siddiqui v. Chesapeake NetCraftsmen

Sara Siddiqui worked as an account manager at Chesapeake NetCraftsmen, where she received positive reviews from her company peers. Despite being a model employee, Siddiqui was fired when she was eight months pregnant.

Right before she was fired, NetCraftsmen placed Siddiqui on a performance improvement plan (PIP). Despite surpassing all of the requirements imposed by the PIP, Siddiqui was still fired. As soon as she was fired, Siddiqui was replaced by a male employee.

Siddiqui alleged that she was fired because she wanted to take maternity leave, which her supervisor informed her would make her unprofitable as she would be unable to make any money for NetCraftsmen.

On February 4, 2016, Siddiqui sued NetCraftsmen for violating the Maryland FEPA, claiming it discriminated against her on the basis of sex and pregnancy by firing her. The case obviously hasn’t been decided yet, but it will be interesting to see how NetCraftsmen responds and whether more facts are revealed to explain how Siddiqui was fired.

Maryland Fair Employment Practice Act

Maryland’s FEPA is a broad state law that prohibits employer from discriminating against employees on the basis of a protected category on the following list:

  • race,
  • color,
  • religion,
  • sex,
  • age,
  • national origin,
  • marital status,
  • sexual orientation,
  • gender identity,
  • genetic information,
  • refusal to submit to genetic testing or reveal the results of a genetic test, and
  • disability (including pregnancy).

A few years ago, the FEPA was amended to provide additional protections for pregnant workers in response to the U.S. Supreme Court case Young v. UPS. The amended FEPA now requires employers to reasonably accommodate pregnant employees, unless doing so would be unduly burdensome.

For our prior discussion of Young v. UPS and its significance, please read out earlier blog post titled “Pregnancy Discrimination: Potential New Rules and EEOC Guidance.”

For more information about the FEPA, please visit the State of Maryland Commission on Civil Rights’ website and its “Employment Discrimination is Unlawful” informational poster.

Summing It Up

Maryland’s primary antidiscrimination law is the Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA), which prohibits workplace discrimination based on the following protected classes:

  • race,
  • color,
  • religion,
  • sex,
  • age,
  • national origin,
  • marital status,
  • sexual orientation,
  • gender identity,
  • genetic information,
  • refusal to submit to genetic testing or reveal the results of a genetic test, and
  • disability (including pregnancy).

The FEPA also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to its pregnant employees unless doing so would be unduly burdensome.

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