In most cases, it’s illegal to treat pregnant women differently when making employment decisions. This means that employers generally cannot base hiring, compensation, benefits, promotions, job assignments, or termination on an employee’s or job applicant’s pregnancy. The law also prohibits harassment of a pregnant woman in the form of offensive or insulting comments about women, pregnancy, or childbirth. This type of behavior is never appropriate in the workplace, but when such behavior occurs on a long-term basis, makes a person uncomfortable, or creates a hostile workplace, the harassment becomes unlawful. The harasser can be a co-worker, a manager, or a business owner.
Federal Law Protects Pregnant Women
Pregnancy discrimination is a form of gender discrimination, and may occur during pregnancy or after a woman gives birth. With a few very specific exceptions, any deprivation of employment opportunities or other disparate treatment in the workplace as a result of pregnancy or childbirth may constitute discrimination.
Rights of Pregnant Women in the Workplace
Employers with staff members who are pregnant or may become pregnant have a responsibility to ensure that these employees are treated fairly. All company policies should extend to pregnant employees as well. For example, if employee company offers temporary disability leave, then this same leave must be offered to an employee temporarily disabled due to pregnancy. Some other examples of employee rights that also extend to pregnant women include the following:
- Employers must keep jobs open for pregnancy-related absences for the same amount of time jobs are kept open for employees on sick leave or temporary disability leave
- Employees who are temporarily unable to do their jobs because of pregnancy have the same rights to alternative work assignments, light duty, or unpaid leave as temporarily disabled workers
- Medical insurance offered by employers must provide equivalent coverage to male and female employees and dependents
Although employers cannot use your pregnancy as a factor in making decisions regarding promotions, layoffs, or training, employers still have a lot of discretion in determining who gets a raise or who gets fired. This reality often makes it difficult to prove that you were treated unfairly due to your pregnancy. That is one of the many reasons is in your best interest to work with an attorney who understands the complex laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Employment Discrimination Attorney
If you returned to your job after your pregnancy leave and were fired, or if you feel that your pregnancy affected your employment status or the decision regarding your job application, speak with an employment law attorney as soon as possible. Yarian and Associates helps women who have been discriminated against due to pregnancy. We will help you protect your rights as an employee who is also a woman and a mother. Contact us today to set up a free consultation and learn more about your workplace rights.