Finding out that you are pregnant can be a very joyful experience. Many professional women put off starting a family until they feel like they have made headway in their careers. The delays caused by professional development can make getting pregnant more difficult and pregnancy itself more dangerous.
Unfortunately, even those who have taken the time to build up their career may discover that their pregnancy undermines their success on the job. Even if a worker tries to follow the popular advice of “leaning in” to focus even more on their career when starting a family, their employer may treat them differently.
Some companies will discriminate against pregnant workers in ways that might force them out of a position or at least slow down their career development. Recognizing the signs of pregnancy discrimination can help you know if your employer may have violated your rights.
Pregnancy is a protected medical condition
Employers generally cannot discriminate against their workers for health conditions. There are federal rules that prohibit such discrimination. Pregnancy is among the conditions that have protection. Lactation after the birth of a child is also protected under the law.
Employers should not make hiring, firing, promotion or compensation decisions based on someone’s pregnancy. They should also permit workers to take leave as legally allowable (often under the Family and Medical Leave Act if the company doesn’t offer maternity leave) and allow a worker to come back to their job after maternity leave.
Some employers won’t cooperate with pregnant women
Sometimes, a company might fire you as soon as you alert your supervisor about your pregnancy or the need for different job responsibilities because you can’t lift as much or stay on your feet for as long as you could before. Other times, the company might at first make an attempt to work with you, only to find excuses to write you up and fire you.
Pregnancy discrimination can also take place after the delivery of your child when your employer won’t let you come back to the same job or tries to cut your hours or wages because of pregnancy leave. The stress of that treatment can impact both mother and child. Women unfairly punished or terminated because of pregnancy can potentially take legal action against their employer because of that discrimination.