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How to Recognize Signs of Pregnancy Discrimination

Tired pregnant woman working

Pregnancy should be a time of joy and anticipation. But for many working mothers, pregnancy can bring with it not only stress but a violation of their rights. Data from the University of Massachusetts Amherst indicates that roughly 5,300 work-related pregnancy discrimination complaints are filed each year.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, workplace discrimination on the basis of sex is illegal. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act helped to expand “the basis of sex” to include “on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or other related medical conditions.”

These protections make it illegal for an employer to make decisions related to hiring and firing a woman based on her pregnancy status. Additionally, an employer cannot change a pregnant woman’s pay, position in her workplace, or benefits package based on whether or not she is pregnant.

Despite these protections, it’s important to know what pregnancy discrimination in the workplace looks like. Understanding it will allow you to identify if you or a coworker is being discriminated against because of a pregnancy.

Common Signs of Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace?

Whether you are going through the hiring process while pregnant or are currently employed while pregnant, it’s important to understand signs of pregnancy discrimination. For many, the signs are subtle and take the form of passive behaviors that lead the victim to feel alienated and isolated. Here are some common signs of pregnancy discrimination in action.

Questions About Pregnancy or Children During the Hiring Process

It is illegal for an employer to make a decision about your employment because of your pregnancy status. An employee may not outright tell you that your pregnancy will be a factor, but questions about your pregnancy, children, and how they might affect you may be an indicator of pregnancy discrimination.

Comments or Jokes About Managing Work After Childbirth

It’s natural for an employer or co-worker to ask you questions about your pregnancy or your children. However, incessant questions or jokes that paint an image of how your pregnancy will impact your work are inappropriate. For example, if an employer jokes with you that you’ll have to work harder because of missed time at work for your upcoming delivery, this can be a form of pregnancy discrimination.

Continued Questions About Your Health or Ability to Continue Working

It can be a red flag if your employer constantly asks you about your health or your ability to complete your job duties. Some employers might keep track of your performance as it relates to your pregnancy. An employer might also use information about your health to retaliate against you if you are pregnant. If you feel that you are being discriminated against in this manner, it can help to keep a record of every time your employer asks you questions regarding your health and your ability to complete your duties.

Refusal or Resistance to Accommodations

Employers are required to offer reasonable accommodations for women during the course of their pregnancy. Protections including FMLA and Short Term Disability allow pregnant women to seek these accommodations. If you find yourself battling your employer for reasonable accommodations including breaks and even schedule adjustments for appointments, this could be a form of pregnancy discrimination.

Getting Terminated Without a Clear or Justifiable Reason

If your employer suddenly terminates you without giving you a clear or justifiable reason for the termination, you could be falling victim to pregnancy discrimination. Terminations of this nature can occur toward the end of a woman’s pregnancy or even during the early stages when a woman is typically at her sickest during the pregnancy. Retaliation of this sort is illegal under federal law, and the termination will often be disguised under other reasons.
Not Receiving a Promotion Despite Superior Work Performance
An employer might also retaliate against you for your pregnancy in the form of withholding promotions and or discretionary pay raises. If you feel that you have been denied a promotion despite having met or exceeded your professional goals, this could be a sign of pregnancy discrimination.

What to Do if You’re a Victim of Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination is a violation of California and federal law, and if you feel you have been a victim, then you may be entitled to recovery including legal damages. At Ochoa & Calderon, our experienced team of attorneys can help you fight for your rights. Contact us today for a free consultation with a dedicated representative. Let our team help you get the compensation you deserve.

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