What are Signs of Pregnancy Discrimination at Work?

Expecting mothers must do a lot of preparation, but nothing can prepare them for pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.  This type of discrimination occurs when a worker is adversely affected based solely on the condition of their pregnancy, intention to be pregnant, or any health issues before or after their pregnancy. 

Congress added a Pregnancy Discrimination Act to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, giving pregnant people protection from discriminatory acts, and pregnant employees should be treated the same as non-pregnant workers.  Unfortunately, it still occurs frequently even to this day.  Furthermore, a pregnant woman may have difficulty determining if they are being discriminated against.  With all the challenges an expecting mother faces, it is important for them to look for signs in case their rights are being violated at work.       

Employer Treatment

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is to protect pregnant workers from being mistreated by their employers.  Here are the following signs of discrimination between a pregnant employee and her employer:

  • Before hiring. It is discrimination if an employer asks an applying worker whether they are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant.
  • After hiring. It is illegal for an employer to terminate a worker because of their pregnancy or their intentions for becoming pregnant.  It is also discrimination for an employer to reassign a pregnant person or replace them, reduce their hours or their wages, or in any way inhibit a future promotion based on their pregnancy.
  • Time off. An employer cannot pressure a pregnant worker to take time off or use sick days or PTO days.  It is likely that the pregnant worker needs the money and cannot afford to take time off, especially weeks or months before their due date.  Furthermore, an employer cannot punish a pregnant worker for using their PTO or sick days because of their pregnancy. 
  • Accommodations. An employer must make accommodations for a pregnant worker and adhere to doctor’s orders. According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), these accommodations must be reasonable and approved by both parties.  These accommodations may include more rest breaks or providing a sitting area.  Employers must also allow a place for a nursing worker to pump for breast milk in a room other than a bathroom. While on maternity leave, an employer must also communicate to their worker of any changes. 
  • Subtle signs. There are often subtle signs of discrimination between the pregnant worker and their employer.  These may include an increase of criticism, withdrawing a raise, withholding a promotion, or delaying the advancement of one’s career based on their pregnancy.  These subtle signs can likely be found as discrimination, particularly if another non-pregnant worker of the same position is not receiving the same treatment. 

Any adverse situation in the workplace can be difficult, and a pregnant person facing harassment or discrimination should get help as soon as possible.  Should any sign of discrimination occur, either subtle or obvious, it is best to discuss the situation with an employment lawyer right away to determine if the worker’s rights are violated. 

Peer Treatment

Discrimination in the workplace occurs not only in an employer/employee relationship, but also among peers.  Harassment and bullying are unfortunately common in the workplace and can likely occur because someone is pregnant.  The pregnant worker is also protected in this circumstance, and their employer must listen to their complaints and concerns. 

South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, Protect the Rights of Pregnant Workers

It may seem like an uphill battle when facing discrimination, especially while expecting a baby.  Fortunately, all workers are legally protected from discrimination and harassment, although they may not know what protection they have or who to contact for guidance.  If you are pregnant and believe you are being discriminated against, the South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, are here to help.  Our experienced and knowledgeable lawyers will help build your case and protect your rights of employment.  Call us today at 856-235-7075 or contact us online for a free consultation. With office locations in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey,