The joy of expecting a child can often come with unexpected challenges, especially for working women. One of these challenges is the unfortunate and unlawful experience of workplace discrimination due to pregnancy. Despite legal protections in place to prevent such discrimination, pregnant women frequently face bias and inequality in their professional lives.
This discrimination can take many forms, and it affects not only the pregnant women themselves, but also the culture and productivity of the workplace.
Denial of job opportunities
This form of discrimination involves an employer denying a pregnant woman a job, promotion or other career opportunities because of her pregnancy. Employers might think a pregnant employee will be less committed to the job or might need to take time off, affecting productivity.
Differential treatment in job assignments
Sometimes, employers may unfairly change a pregnant woman’s job duties or responsibilities without her consent, thinking that pregnancy makes her less capable. This can include denying her certain tasks, involuntarily reducing her hours or moving her to a less desirable position.
Unfair leave policies
Some workplaces may have unfair leave policies for pregnant women, such as not allowing adequate maternity leave or forcing a woman to take unpaid leave or quit when she is still capable of working.
Hostile work environment
A hostile work environment involves co-workers, supervisors or managers creating an intimidating, offensive or hostile workplace for a pregnant woman. This can include making derogatory comments about her pregnancy, ridiculing her or subjecting her to unfair scrutiny or criticism.
Lack of reasonable accommodations
In California, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees who need them. This could mean providing more frequent breaks, allowing a flexible work schedule or modifying certain job duties. Failing to do so when a woman can still perform the essential functions of her job can be a form of discrimination.
Retaliation refers to the actions an employer takes against an employee for asserting her rights under anti-discrimination laws. This could include any negative job action, such as firing, demoting or disciplining a pregnant employee for complaining about discrimination.
Understanding these types of discrimination can help create a more inclusive and fair working environment. If you are pregnant and believe you are facing workplace discrimination, you have the right to take action.