Pregnancy will mean big changes for the expectant mother, regardless of whether this is her first child or her fourth child. Both planned and unexpected pregnancies may have an impact on someone’s health, their job performance and their daily availability for work.
However, pregnancy is a temporary situation that employers should accommodate. Both federal laws and California state laws have rules against pregnancy discrimination, but female workers often notice a change in the work atmosphere after they become visibly pregnant or inform management of their condition.
What are some of the ways that pregnancy discrimination manifests at work?
Your boss refuses to accommodate you
Some women have very few symptoms of pregnancy and can continue living their lives like normal for the most part. Others may have unusual issues, ranging from elevated blood pressure to pregnancy-related anemia.
Doctors may impose certain employment restrictions, such as limits on how much they lift or requirements for bed rest. If your employer could help support you for a healthier pregnancy but refuses to make minor changes to your job responsibilities to comply with your doctor’s recommendation, that refusal to accommodate you may be a form of pregnancy discrimination.
They won’t let you take time off of work
You have the right to take an unpaid leave of absence when your own health requires rest because of pregnancy complications. You also have the right to take leave in most situations following the birth of your child.
Your employer should accommodate you by allowing the time off and moving you back into the same position or a similar one when you return from your leave. If the company demotes you or refuses to give you time off, that could be pregnancy discrimination.
They punish you for little things constantly
Sometimes, the shift in your relationship with your employer will be subtle. They won’t outright refuse to accommodate you, but they might instead change their attitude about your work performance or how they enforce workplace rules.
Poor performance reviews or seemingly trivial disciplinary efforts may be part of a broader attempt to create a paper trail that will justify your demotion or termination. Workers who believe that their employer is hostile to their pregnancy may want to keep detailed records of their interactions with management and also learn more about how state and federal law protects them.
Fighting back against pregnancy discrimination may require asserting your rights in the workplace or even taking your employer to court.