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Pregnancy Discrimination 101

“I didn’t give you a raise because you were pregnant. I didn’t expect you to return to work, as most mothers like to stay home with their babies.” Unfortunately, many working mothers and mothers-to-be face situations like this. Pregnancy discrimination is real, and it is illegal. Here’s what you need to know about discrimination and whether you’re experiencing it.

What Constitutes Pregnancy Discrimination?

Pertaining to the job and job duties:

Being passed over for a raise or promotion. Some employers may pass you up because they believe you’re torn between commitments as a new mother, or feel you should be more active at home. They may think you’re unable to perform your job while pregnant or as a new mother. An employer may think they're thoughtful by passing up a promotion to a pregnant employee to create less stress. The act of considering pregnancy when looking at pay or position is illegal, regardless of intention.

Changing the job, leave, or not hiring a woman who is pregnant, a new mother, or considering pregnancy. An employer cannot force a move into another position due to pregnancy, nor can they push either extended leave or a shortened leave of absence due to pregnancy. They can’t ask a potential hire if they are pregnant or considering children.

While working:

Accommodations. With a doctor’s note, an employer should make adequate accommodations for things such as morning sickness, light duty, and places to rest while a woman works during her pregnancy. They also cannot fire a mother for pumping breast milk and must provide a safe space other than a bathroom for pumping.

Harassment. If an employer or colleagues make a woman feel uncomfortable about her pregnancy, her ability to work while pregnant, or anything related to the pregnancy (such as being a single mother or unmarried), they are discriminating.

When in doubt, it’s a good idea to contact an employment lawyer. A good lawyer will be able to help you discern if you have been discriminated against, as well as future steps to keep you and your job safe. Contact us for a FREE consultation. Call 415-545-8608 today!

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