What Is Pregnancy Discrimination?
While pregnancy may be something to celebrate for the expectant mother, employers may not want a pregnant employee to be hired or to work with them. Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer (or another party) treats a woman unfairly because of their pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to their pregnancy or childbirth experience. However, it is illegal (and a violation of a person’s constitutional right) to discriminate based on pregnancy as it related to the terms or conditions of someone’s employment.
Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace
You may suffer from pregnancy discrimination in connection with a host of work situations and aspects of your employment, including:
- During the hiring process. During your interview, your potential employer asks whether you have children or plan to become pregnant again; when you share that you are currently pregnant, they tell you to reapply after your child is born and you are ready to work.
- During layoffs or cutbacks. It is a violation of your civil rights to be fired because of a pregnancy. If you tell your boss that you are pregnant, they should not fire you, especially if you are still able to work.
- In salary or fringe benefit offerings. In some cases, you
- With promotions. After finding out you are pregnant, your employer may pass you over for a promotion.
- Concerning training opportunities. After discovering you are pregnant, your employer should not exclude you from new training opportunities or conferences.
You may also suffer pregnancy-based discrimination in the workplace by:
- Being denied temporary disability. During pregnancy, a person may suffer from a medical condition that renders them temporarily unable to complete their job duties. If this occurs, their employer is required to treat them like any other temporarily disabled employee by offering alternative assignments or temporary disability leave. It is also important to note that certain conditions caused by pregnancy are considered disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Suffering from harassment. It is illegal to harass anyone because of their pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition and to make the work environment hostile or offensive. You may suffer harassment from a supervisor, co-worker, or even a client or customer.
- Denying parental leave. If your employer allows for temporarily disabled employees to take leave (without pay or as disability leave), they must also allow you to take leave if you are temporarily disabled due to your pregnancy. Because of the Family and Medical Leave Act, new parents may also be eligible to receive 12 weeks of leave.
- Not having a job or the same job when you return to work. If you take leave, your employer is not allowed to change your job or job responsibilities upon your return because of your pregnancy; exceptions can be made for promotions or a change in position that comes with equal or higher pay.
How to Protect Yourself from Pregnancy Discrimination
Companies with 15 or more employees cannot discriminate based on pregnancy, but that does not stop some employers from trying to get around the federal and state laws meant to protect your constitutional rights. Here are some ways that you can protect yourself from and combat pregnancy-based discrimination.
- Announce your pregnancy as soon as possible. After you make an official announcement, you are officially protected by anti-discrimination laws. If your pregnancy is discovered before your announcement, it may be harder to prove that the discrimination occurred and was based on your pregnancy.
- Be honest about pregnancy-related health concerns. If you are suffering from preeclampsia or another pregnancy-related health issue, you need to tell your employer as soon as possible. You are entitled to reasonable accommodations; however, if you do not tell your employer about your health concerns and needs, they may dismiss you for not being able to handle your job duties.
- Report any instances of discrimination. If you believe that you are being discriminated against because of your pregnancy, you should report it to the human resources department and adhere to your company’s reporting policy.
- Keep detailed records. You should document the conversations you have with others concerning your pregnancy as well as any instances of discrimination.
- Speak with an attorney. If you are worried you will be dismissed, demoted, or discriminated against because of your pregnancy, you should speak with a reliable civil rights attorney.
Get Legal Help
At the Law Office of Steven Fine, we are experienced legal advocates and are committed to helping our clients protect their constitutional rights. You should not have to suffer discrimination due to your pregnancy, and we are here to help you take legal action.
Attorney Fine has over 20 years of legal experience and strives to help his clients no matter the difficulty of their case. Once you retain our firm, you can trust that your case is in capable hands. Schedule a case consultation today by calling (312) 436-0638 or reaching out online.