Pregnant women all over the country routinely experience discrimination while at work, and while some instances are overt, others are not as easy to recognize. Employers have certain legal obligations to expectant mothers in their workforces as outlined by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When a pregnant woman’s rights are infringed upon, an employer may be held accountable. Discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace may happen if the employer:
Denies coverage for pregnancy-related conditions
Any employer who offers health insurance coverage for typical medical conditions must do so for pregnancy-related expenses. This is true regardless of whether benefits are offered at a set amount or based on a percentage.
Fails to make a hire because of a pregnancy
American employers may not, by law, refuse to hire a woman because of an existing pregnancy if the woman is still able to perform the duties associated with her job. Similarly, an employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman for personal or religious reasons. An employer may also face repercussions if he or she discriminates against a pregnant woman by offering lower pay or failing to promote her because of the condition, and the employer also cannot fire an employee based on pregnancy status alone.
Fails to acknowledge temporary disabilities due to pregnancy
If your employer offers disability leave or pay to workers with conditions other than pregnancy, he or she must offer it to you if the need arises during your pregnancy. Your job must remain open and available to you for the same amount of time it would be for a coworker on disability for a reason other than pregnancy.
Refuses to follow the tenets outlined by the Family and Medical Leave Act
Employers who meet certain criteria also cannot discriminate against pregnant women who have been employed with them for at least a year by refusing a request for 12 weeks of leave (whether paid or unpaid). This typically applies to teachers, public agencies, governmental organizations and businesses within the private sector that employ 50 or more workers for at least 20 weeks a year.
Essentially, any actions that suggest an impartialness toward a pregnant woman in the workplace may be considered pregnancy discrimination. Often, time limits apply with regard to how long you have to file a discrimination claim against your employer after the offense takes place. If you feel you have been a victim of such discrimination, consider promptly contacting an attorney.