Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex. As amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, sex-based discrimination under Title VII includes discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Ames v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 747 F.3d 509, 513 (8th Cir. Iowa 2014). Can an employer be liable for sex discrimination for failing to provide new mothers access to a lactation room?
Recently, the Eight Circuit answered this question in the positive. The answer to this question is yes, however, for an employer to be liable in this situation, the employee must prove she was constructively discharged. To do that, an employee must show that the employer deliberately created intolerable working conditions with the intention of forcing her to quit.
In making this determination, courts will look at the treatment of the complaining employee by her employer. They will also take into consideration the employer’s attempts to accommodate the employee and efforts made to maintain the employment relationship.
Constructive discharge in a non-hostile work environment is difficult to prove because it requires the employee to show the intent of the employer.
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