In 2018, there were 2,790 complaints of pregnancy discrimination filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and $16.6 million in monetary benefits were paid out with these claims. Even though workplace discrimination is usually thought of as being is associated with age, sex, race, or even religion, people who are pregnant are also commonly a target of discrimination.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was established in 1978, and it is in place to protect people who are pregnant from unfair treatment in the workplace. If you are expecting a baby yourself and work a public job, it is a good idea to get to know what pregnancy discrimination looks like so you can protect yourself. Here are a few examples of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace to keep in mind.
You Are Not Given a Promotion Because You’re Pregnant
Imagine this scenario: you are the most qualified person in the company to step into the new role as manager, team leader, or supervisor. You were even recommended to apply to the position, but you became pregnant sometime between the interviews for the position and when the position was finally assigned.
If you find out you were passed over for a promotion due to your pregnancy, you may have a legal claim.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to prove cases in which pregnant people are passed over for promotions purely because they are pregnant, but these cases do take place and are carried out successfully. In order to be successful, you would need definitive proof or evidence that your pregnancy specifically was the reason you did not get the job.
Similarly, an employer cannot refuse to hire you simply because you are pregnant if you are trying to find employment while you are expecting a child. Employers often try to treat pregnant people as a liability or an employee who could require special accommodations, which is illegal when it comes to determining if they can be hired for a new position.
You’re Fired Because Your Employer Says the Workplace Is Not Safe
Even though you certain workplace conditions can be more hazardous to pregnant people, your employer cannot fire you because of those facts. In these situations, your employer has the legal responsibility to accommodate you as a pregnant employee, even if they have to temporarily relocate you to another job within the company.
Your Pay Is Lowered Because You Are Pregnant
Here’s another possible scenario: your employer brings you into the office after finding out you are pregnant and states they must lower your pay because you can no longer perform the duties your job requires since you are expecting. Unless it has been medically established that you can no longer do your job, your employer does not have the right to lower your pay in anticipation that you will not be able to do certain things.
Your employer does have the right to move you into another job role if your pregnancy does not allow you to perform your usual duties, however. For example, if you normally have to lift heavy weight every day all day as a picker at a warehouse, and your doctor deems that unsafe due to your pregnancy, your employer can assign you to another position and lower pay may be a result of that.
Overall, being pregnant should not be something that leads to unfair treatment in the workplace. But if it does happen, you are not alone. Between 2010 and 2015, almost 31,000 complaints were filed with the EEOC for pregnancy discrimination. If you feel you have been discriminated against because you are expecting, reach out to us at Shegerian & Associates for advice.