It is unfortunately common for employers to intentionally discriminate against pregnant workers. Sometimes, it is obvious that is happening, as employers find a reason to terminate an employee who previously had no issues. Managers or co-workers may make inappropriate or derogatory statements about the pregnant worker or about the impact of pregnancy and missed work on the business.
However, federal law prohibits discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace. Your employer should offer paid or unpaid leave with the ability to return to your original position.
Your employer should also be accommodating any special needs you have during and after pregnancy, including space for breastfeeding or pumping breast milk throughout the workday and different tasks if your typical line of work is too physically taxing as your pregnancy progresses. If your employer has made a point of reducing your shifts, giving you worse shifts or leads, decreasing your pay, refusing you a promotion or raise or terminating your position with the company due to a pregnancy, you need to speak with an experienced workplace law and discrimination attorney as soon as possible.
It’s important to document discrimination as it happens
If you are currently still employed, but your employer won’t accommodate your medical needs during your pregnancy or is creating a hostile work environment, you need to document what is happening. Your attorney can help you with this process. Generally, taking notes that are highly specific, including date, time, location, the people involved and the specific events, will help. So will printing and retaining emails that reference your pregnancy or medical needs as a reason for your mistreatment. You have enough to handle during a pregnancy without worrying about your employer’s illegal behavior.
By accurately documenting what is happening in your workplace, you can help provide evidence for a civil lawsuit to hold your employer accountable. Alternatively, if you have already been terminated, you can speak with your attorney to carefully record everything that happened up to the point where your job was illegally terminated as a result of your pregnancy. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to recover lost wages, including those denied to you as a result of losing a promotion or raise because of your pregnancy.
An attorney can advocate for you in cases of pregnancy discrimination
Even large, national-level employers may overtly discriminate against pregnant workers. Lawsuits are often the only form of redress available to women who have experienced pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Holding your former employer legally and financially responsible for the discrimination you faced is the only way to help prevent it from happening again.
For many businesses, the bottom line may speak much more loudly than human decency and the rights of their workers. You are not alone! Working with a workplace discrimination attorney can help you recover your losses.