Some babies are planned and some are surprises, but for women in the workplace, all require careful strategizing to coordinate for medical appointme nts and pregnancy-related costs. Many women do not have the luxury of quitting work once they have a baby, so their jobs can become more important once the extra expense of a child is added on. When employers decide that they no longer want to employ an expectant mother, it is not only inconsiderate but can also be illegal.
What is pregnancy discrimination?
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, any pregnant woman who is able to perform her job must be allowed to continue working. Discrimination can occur due to childbirth, pregnancy or any related medical conditions. Certain aspects of employment that can be affected by this type of discrimination include the following:
- Fringe benefits
- Pay rates
Workers may feel that there have been other aspects of their job that were also affected negatively because they became pregnant.
Possible discrimination scenarios
Sometimes it can be difficult to know whether an employer's actions qualify as discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 contained Title VII, which stated that any pregnant employee must be treated the same as other employees. If a condition related to pregnancy occurs and she is temporarily disabled, she must be treated the same as any other disabled employee with similar abilities.
One possible example is modified duties. Many pregnant women are restricted in the amount of weight they can lift, and employers should respect this and offer altered responsibilities. If a woman is put on bedrest or required to leave temporarily, she should also be allowed the time off and be able to return to her job when she is ready.
An important thing to note is that the government does not require business owners to do these things for all employees, but if bosses make these allowances for other workers who become temporarily disabled, they need to treat a pregnant woman in the same manner and offer the same benefits.
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, companies with a certain number of employees were required to offer all new parents 12 weeks of leave. The leave may be paid or unpaid, but if the worker has acquired any paid time off, it can be used in this scenario. This rule applies to parents who also adopt or foster a new child.
What to do about discrimination
If you think you have been a victim of pregnancy discrimination, you should discuss the situation with superiors in your company. If you are not being supported, contact an experienced employment attorney to help you fight for your rights.