Pregnant women are no strangers to workplace discrimination. Despite the various protections they have under federal law, many of them still get reprimanded, mistreated or even fired for reasons related to their pregnancy.
While it’s illegal for employers to discriminate against pregnant women, not all of them honor those protections.
If those expecting face this kind of mistreatment, they can reduce their chances of falling victim to discrimination by understanding their rights.
Protections pregnant women have at work
These are some of the most common ones they should know:
- A woman can’t get fired because she’s pregnant: Sometimes, an employer may feel an employee’s pregnancy is costing them quality and output. If that’s the case, they may try to disguise their discrimination behind good intentions to avoid legal troubles. They may say they are concerned about the pregnant employee’s well-being in an attempt to find someone to take their position. No matter their intention, doing so is against the law.
- Companies can’t decline employment to women because they are pregnant: There are still some workplaces that hold a stigma against younger women. It’s because they may be pregnant or have the chance to become pregnant soon. That’s because some may want to ensure employees are fully committed and don’t have any distractions. However, these practices are highly illegal. Years ago, several women filed a lawsuit against retail store Mother Maternity in 2007 because the company refused to hire three qualified candidates who were all expecting. The company lost the suit and ended up paying more than $300,000 to settle the case.
- Pregnant women can receive work accommodations: If a woman goes through a healthy pregnancy with no complications, they typically can’t receive workplace support. But for women with long-lasting medical effects from their pregnancy, they can receive specific accommodations. For example, a person who usually has to stand for their job may be able to sit on a stool instead temporarily.
Discrimination can be hard to prove
For those looking to file a discrimination suit against their current or former employer, documenting the evidence can be a challenge. However, victims of pregnancy discrimination can build a solid case by keeping records of discriminatory behaviors and actions. They may also have to demonstrate how they got treated differently by their employer in comparison to workers with similar backgrounds and qualifications.