What is Pregnancy Discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer discriminates against a woman because she is pregnant or plans to become pregnant.
What actions by an employer can be considered Pregnancy discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination can take many different forms. One type of pregnancy discrimination occurs when the employer fires a woman due to her pregnancy or a medical condition that relates to her pregnancy. Another form of pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer refuses to hire a potential employee when the potential employee is fully capable of performing the job.
In summation, women cannot be treated differently because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition that relates to pregnancy or childbirth, and when an employer treats a woman differently due to pregnancy, a pregnant woman may have a pregnancy discrimination case.
Why do Employers Discriminate against Pregnant women?
- One of the main reasons why discrimination occurs is prejudice. Some employers have a false belief that pregnant women (and working mothers) cannot successfully work while they are pregnant.
- Employers may discriminate against pregnant women out of concern for loss of profit during the employees absence.
- Lastly, employers may discriminate against a woman due to fear having to make too many accommodations for the woman during her pregnancy and in the months following her return to work.
What is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?
Laws like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act were enacted in response to the growing concern that discrimination in the workplace due to pregnancy prevents women from being able to provide for their families. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act views pregnancy discrimination as a type of sex discrimination.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prevents employers from discriminating against pregnant women in the workplace. The act states that employers cannot discriminate against a pregnant woman in any aspect of employment including, hiring, and firing.
If a woman becomes temporarily unable to perform an aspect of her job due to pregnancy, the employer must treat the woman in the same way the employer treats other temporarily disabled employees.
This means that an employer may be required to provide the pregnant woman with an alternative assignment in the event that the woman becomes unable to perform part of her job due to the pregnancy.
Further, if an employer provides paid leave to other temporarily disabled employees the employer will be required to provide the same benefits to the pregnant woman who becomes temporary unable to perform her job. If the employer allowed other temporarily disabled employees to take an unpaid leave the employer must offer the same opportunity to the pregnant woman who is temporarily disabled.
What should I do if I am pregnant and cannot perform part of my job?
If you are pregnant and you cannot perform part of your job, you should ask for reasonable accommodations.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers who employ at least fifteen employees to provide reasonable accommodations to employees. Employers are not required to accept inadequate job performance, but they are required to make reasonable changes in the workplace. Reasonable changes could include allowing an employee to take more breaks, or allowing an employee who suffers from morning sickness to take the morning off work.
If you believe that you need accommodations, you should talk to your doctor about how your pregnancy is affecting your performance at your job. Your doctor will be able write a letter to your employer describing how your pregnancy is affecting your ability to perform your job.
What Should I do if I have been discriminated against because I am Pregnant?
Report the issue if you believe that you have been discriminated against
You should report any issues that you are having to the human resources department. If your employer employs more than fifteen employees, there is a chance that you will be protected from retaliation. Even if you are not protected by an anti-retaliation law it is still important that you discuss the problems that you are facing with your employer.
There is a chance that the employer may stop the discrimination if you speak up. If the employer refuses to change their behavior, you will be better prepared for a discrimination case if you have spoken to the human resources department.
Do not wait to announce your Pregnancy to your Employer
If you do not tell your employer that you are, pregnant it is possible that you will later have a hard time proving that you were discriminated against due to your pregnancy.
This is because your employer may claim that they had no knowledge of your pregnancy. This is why it is important to inform your employer of your pregnancy once you are comfortable revealing this information.
Document what you are experiencing
If you believe that you are being discriminated against in the workplace due to your pregnancy you should make sure to document what you are experiencing.
First, if you were fired make sure to document the reasons for your termination. Ask the employer to put the reasons for your termination in writing. If the employer cannot give a good reason for your termination discuss the matter with an attorney to see if you have a discrimination case.
You should also document your interactions with the human resources department at the place of your employment.
Write down the date that you told your employer that you were pregnant. If you were denied accommodations write down what accommodations you asked for and the reasons your employer gave for denying you the accommodations.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against due to your pregnancy you should talk to an attorney about your legal rights.
You may have an employment discrimination case, and you may be able to recover damages as a result of wrongful termination.