Gender discrimination can take many forms in the workplace, and pregnant employees may have months upon months to experience every single one of them. Rarely does an event provide such ongoing opportunities for gender discrimination as pregnant employees face each and every day on the job.
It boggles the mind how some employers seem to think of a pregnancy as an inconvenience rather than a wonderful, natural part of living. Still, many employees face gender discrimination because of their pregnancy each day.
If you believe that you experience pregnancy discrimination, be sure to get all the help you need to stand up for justice. As a working soon-to-be mother, you have enough on your plate without also juggling a lawsuit against an inflexible or discriminatory employer. An experienced employment law attorney can help you scrutinize the facts of your experience and build a strong case while protecting your rights and priorities.
Pregnancy and the hiring process
In broad strokes, it is illegal to discriminate against a pregnant employee or job applicant. This protection is primarily based in an amendment to the Civil Rights Act. If you apply for a job, the employer cannot refuse to hire you because you are pregnant.
Some employers may attempt to pass the buck, saying that the position is not appropriate for a pregnant person, or that the customers or other employees are not equipped to handle a pregnant person in the office. Remember, this is against the law. If you're qualified for the job, you're qualified for the job.
Maternity leave rights
At first, the employer may be supportive of your pregnancy, but as the birth come closer and closer, the issues with time away from work may arise. In general, employers must treat a pregnant person as they treat other employees with medical conditions.
If you suffer some sort of condition as a part of your pregnancy and must take time off to recover, your employer must not treat you any differently than he or she would treat someone with the flu. When you recover, you should not face any difficulty returning to work. For many types of injuries, an employer must provide employees with modified duties so they can return to their jobs. A pregnancy is no different, and should receive the same respect a person who breaks his or her leg might receive in the workplace.
Once you return from delivering the child, you should have no time limits placed on how soon you can come back to work.
The rights of the employer
Just as with other medical conditions, the employer does have some agency in how one chooses to deal with the matter. If an employer requires other employees to provide a note from a doctor before authorizing sick leave or paying for medical costs through insurance, then a pregnant employee must also provide a doctor's notice.
Your pregnancy is a wonderful event, but it does not define you as a person or as an employee. Be sure to use all the tools at your disposal to stand up for your rights in the workplace.