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3 ways pregnancy can affect the careers of expectant mothers

On Behalf of | Feb 18, 2023 | Employment Law |

Pregnant women sometimes experience challenging health issues as a result of their gestational status. Pregnancy can lead to hypertension, diabetes, chronic pain and consistent fatigue. A doctor who is supervising a woman’s progress may inform her that she needs to limit certain activities for her safety and the well-being of her unborn child, as a result.

In theory, most employers in California can easily accommodate a woman’s short-term restrictions during pregnancy and support her so that she can come back to the job after the completion of her maternity leave. Unfortunately, there are many ways that pregnancy can affect a woman’s professional ambitions through no fault of her own.

1. Her employer may refuse to accommodate her

One of the most common forms of pregnancy discrimination involves a business that will not abide by the limitations imposed by a female worker’s doctor. Lifting restrictions and bed rest are often easy for employers to accommodate by changing someone’s job responsibilities or allowing them to temporarily work from home. Unfortunately, some businesses will refuse reasonable accommodations requested by pregnant workers and will instead push them out of their jobs.

2. She may not be able to take the leave she needs

Women may require leave when they have a severe medical issue related to their pregnancy. Most will also take a legally-protected, extended leave of absence after the birth of their child to recover and care for their new family member(s).

Companies’ leave policies may not offer enough paid leave for a woman to care for her newborn for several months, but unpaid leave is usually an option at many larger companies. Some businesses may refuse to grant a worker California Family Rights Act leave despite the fact that pregnancy is a qualifying condition under this law.

3. Her career may stall out when she returns

Employers often recognize that firing or fighting with a pregnant worker could damage the company’s reputation and lead to expensive litigation, so they may accommodate her minimally and then seek to force her out when she returns to work after giving birth.

A hostile work environment, stagnation of career development and increasingly harsh performance reviews are all examples of how employers may practically retaliate against a woman who requested leave and accommodations because of her pregnancy. Fighting back against pregnancy discrimination can compensate an individual worker affected by this reality and can potentially lead to a company changing its practices so that it treats other workers more appropriately in the future.