Something an expectant mother should never have to worry about is Pregnancy Discrimination In the Workplace. Unfortunately, even with today’s standards and anti-discrimination laws, it is still often an issue. While we hope you don’t face this with your pregnancy, we can give you some pointers on how to handle a situation if it arises. If you feel you are being discriminated against during your pregnancy, there are things you can do to correct it and protect yourself and your work position.
Pregnancy Discrimination In the Workplace
Keep a journal. If you feel that your employer is treating you differently due to your pregnancy, make sure that you document those behaviors. Changes in schedules, derogatory comments or even a demotion can all be considered discrimination depending upon circumstances. If you don’t have documentation to back up your claims, you cannot protect yourself.
Remember that many states can fire with or without cause. Check your individual state labor and wage board for their restrictions on being fired without cause. Some states allow an employer to fire without any cause. In those cases, it can be very tough to fight in court if you believe you were discriminated against due to your pregnancy. Educate yourself on your state laws regarding discrimination and the employer right to fire without cause.
Recognize the difference between discrimination and safety concerns. In some workplaces, it is for both your safety and others that you be moved to a different position while pregnant. There are many factories, assembly lines and even medical field positions that can be dangerous for a woman who is pregnant. An x-ray technician may need to take time off from that position, or work in different areas of the department to avoid being around x-rays during pregnancy. Before you jump to the conclusion that you are being discriminated against, make sure you understand the big picture.
Sexual harassment is often associated with pregnancy. The snide comments regarding being, “knocked up” or asking about intimate details of your pregnancy and physical changes can be considered sexual harassment. If you are being approached in an intimate or sexual nature, or questions that are inappropriate in nature are coming up, then it may be sexual harassment and not pregnancy discrimination.
As you enjoy the changes your body goes through during pregnancy, you should not be concerned about pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Consider your current job when you make plans to try to become pregnant. Think about how it will affect you while pregnant, as well as how well you will be able to perform your job while pregnant. While you should never be asked to leave due to pregnancy, you must accept that some jobs you will not be able to do while pregnant. Don’t put yourself or your employer in the position of having to make a potentially difficult decision about your employment while pregnant. Be proactive, aware and alert to how you are treated.
Have you ever dealt with pregnancy discrimination in the workplace? How did you handle it?