Having a child is an exciting time for many new families. However, it can also be filled with uncertainty, especially when trying to figure out your rights in the workplace. Even though the number of pregnant workers has steadily increased in the past 50 years, pregnancy discrimination and unfriendly work policies are still prevalent in every single industry today, including female dominated industries.
It is important for expecting mothers to know their rights and to contact a pregnancy discrimination lawyer immediately if they feel they are being discriminated against.
Pregnancy Discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employer discriminates against an employee due to a childbirth, pregnancy or other related condition. The discrimination is not always obvious and may even occur when you return to work from maternity leave. Unfortunately, in this day and age more people are not only working while pregnant, but are also working longer into their pregnancy. As a result, it is all too common that expecting mothers experience discrimination while trying to maintain their jobs.
Common Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination at Work
As stated previously, there’s a lot of gray area when it comes to pregnancy discrimination. Due to the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and California’s pregnancy discrimination protections under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers have been more cautious of how they treat expecting employees. However, that does not mean that discrimination against those employees has magically stopped. Here is a list of the most common ways employers commit different forms of pregnancy discrimination today:
1. Getting Demoted, Not Promoted or Let Go Due to Pregnancy
Being discharged from employment is the most common reason for a pregnancy discrimination case. A recent study
found that 31% of all pregnancy discrimination cases filed were due to employees stating that their employer let them go due to their pregnancy. Many individuals are afraid to report their pregnancy to their employer for this reason. However, this is a form of pregnancy discrimination and is against the law. Although it is understandable an employee may be fearful to report her pregnancy, it is important to inform your employer or HR team about the pregnancy at least 30 days before you plan on taking leave to avoid issues or delay. For more information on parental leave, click here.
2. Denial of Reasonable Accommodations
Often while pregnant, an employee will request for accommodations to allow them to comfortably perform their work without causing harm to themselves or their child. A reasonable accommodation
is a modification or adjustment to a job, or job related task, for an employee who is unable to perform said task due to pregnancy or a pregnancy related medical condition. Some examples of pregnancy related medical conditions are morning sickness, post-partum depression, preeclampsia, or recovering from child birth.
Denial of reasonable accommodation could take various forms such as not permitting the employee to sit during the work shift, forcing her to continue heavy-lifting related tasks, or not allowing the employee to telecommute (so long as it is not an undue hardship on the employer and the employer permits these accommodations for others as well).
Another common instance of pregnancy discrimination is harassment in the workplace. While one-off comments about the pregnancy may not be enough to warrant pregnancy discrimination, multiple comments, remarks, or insults about the pregnancy could create a hostile work environment. Generally, because most harassment is usually subtle, it’s best to consult a pregnancy discrimination lawyer to go over your case and see what your next steps should be if you are experiencing this at work.
4. Denial of Time Off or Forced Time Off
Employers often think they are doing a pregnant employee a favor by attempting to force them into taking time off work. However, if you are still able to perform your job and do not need any special accommodations, it is illegal for your employer to make that decision for you. On the other hand, it is also illegal for your employer to deny you taking time off during your pregnancy as well. For more information on time off and what to do in the case that your employer denies your request for time on, click here.
Call A Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Today
Often times pregnancy discrimination can be difficult to prove, and sadly, it is still widely prevalent today. It is important to keep notes and records of any actions that may have been taken against you due to your pregnancy. The law is clear in that discrimination against an employee is illegal and you should speak to an employment attorney as soon as you are experiencing discrimination at your workplace. Call us at Odell Law or use our contact form below to set up a free consultation today.