Are you a victim of Pregnancy Discrimination?
- One out of nine expecting mothers reported that they are discriminated at work some way or another.
- One out of five expecting mothers have experienced harassments by their employer or colleagues.
- 10% of all expecting mothers get pushback from their employer when trying to make medical appointments for their prenatal check-up.
Pregnancy Discrimination is very real, and it have been around for centuries.
In 1978, Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is implemented to help protect expecting mothers from being discriminated. PDA forbids discrimination based on pregnancy. This is enforced by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
This table shows charges filed for pregnancy discrimination under EEOC in United States alone.
Pregnancy Discrimination in United States
|Year||Charges||Monetary Benefits (Millions)|
“What is consider pregnancy discrimination?”
Here we will show you with a few most common examples of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace!
Firing Employee Because She is Pregnant
Some employers may fire their pregnant employees after their employees inform them of their pregnancy.
These employers usually give 2 different reasons, which both are totally unacceptable according to the federal law:
- The employers may believe that the baby may interfere with the employee’s ability to perform their job.
- Or, the employer may believe the physical nature of the job will be bad for the pregnant employee’s health.
But it is illegal for your employer to fire you because you are pregnant.
As an expecting mother, you are protected from pregnancy discrimination by Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).
Refuse to hire an employee because of her pregnancy.
Did your interviewer ask you about your family plan? Such as…
“Are you planning to get pregnant?”
Your interviewer might just be breaking the law when ask that question.
Similar questions that should not be asked by an interviewer:
- “Are you just married?”
- “How many kids are you planning to have?”
- “If your kids is sick, but you have an important project to complete, what will you do?
Employers are generally not allow to make hiring decisions based on your family status.
Most employer still ask these question as they have the misconception that woman that are pregnant may not be able to fully committed to their job due to their kids.
Hiring decisions should be based on your capabilities and not if you are married, have kids, or soon to be having kids.
When you are rejected from getting hire due to your pregnancy, this can be consider as pregnancy discrimination and is not allow by the federal law.
Harassing an Employee for being Pregnant
In every workplace, there are some colleagues whom have an unwelcome personality. These workplace bully can be your boss, clients, business partners, or your coworkers.
Negative remarks, bad jokes and idiotic comments that interferes a pregnant employee’s work performance, and creates a hostile, or discriminated working environment is considered harassment.
These unwelcome actions can be very annoying.
Some harassment that have escalated to the level of intimidation, threats or even physical assaults should not be ignored.
Not only these frequent and pervasive conduct can affect your work performance, it can affect both your mental and physical health.
When you are face with harassment for being pregnant at work.
Demoting an Employee for being pregnant
Demoting employees based on the stereotype about her abilities to work because she is pregnant is outright against the law.
Change of the job role can only occur when:
- Employee requested a job reassignment
- Employee indicate she was unable to perform her job duties
Under no circumstances that the employer should demoted the pregnant employee, because of her pregnancy and pregnancy-related medical condition.
This action violates the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy.
In addition, this conduct may also violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits impairments resulting from pregnancy.
Not providing Pregnant Employees a place to pump breast milk
According to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers with more than 50 employees are required to provide reasonable amount of breaks for pregnant moms and recently-pregnant employees to pump breast milk.
The place provided should be safe, secure and private.
What is consider a reasonable amount of break time to express their milk or pump during the work period?
Let’s look at some of the stats:
- Typically, pregnant woman pump every 2-3 hours.
- Two to three times per 8 hour work period.
- Three to four times per 12 hour work period.
- In average, it will take 15 to 20 minutes to express milk, not including the travelling time or the setting up/ cleaning of the breast pump attachments.
Studies shows, most mothers spend around 1 hour in total per workday to pump.
What should the space accommodation be like for nursing employees?
First off, it should be a place other than a bathroom.
The nursing room should have the following:
- Functional: Have a chair and a flat surface for pumping equipment.
- Private: A place that is shield from view.
- Safe: Free from intrusion with the ability to lock the doors.
- Dedicated place: Available when a mother needs to pump breast milk.
The place can be permanent, flexible or temporary, depending on your industry.
Not Giving Pregnancy-Related Medical Leave
Pregnant employees may occasionally need to go for medical check up, or prenatal check up.
According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (ACT), employers is required to allow a pregnant employee to take disability leave, or leave without pay if an employee is temporarily disable due to pregnancy.
Employer should treat a pregnant employee the same way as an employee who is not pregnant:
- Employer should not force an employee who is limited by pregnancy or related medical conditions to consume her sick leave before using other types of leave.
- Employer should not force a pregnant employee to take a shorter leave.
- Employer should not stop an employee from taking no-pay leave.
According to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the employer is required to keep the pregnant employee’s job open while she is on leave.
The period of time should be the same as what they would do for employees who are sick or on temporary disability leave.
Leave for pregnant employees should be given under the same terms and conditions as their employees who have an equivalent ability or inability to work.
Retaliation against pregnant employee who file discrimination claim
According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), retaliation against employee who file discrimination claim is the most reported form of discrimination.
Not all employers make a positive change for their pregnant employees after being reported for discrimination, some will take “revenge” on the whistle blower.
Here’s what happened:
- First, an employee file a report about workplace pregnancy discrimination.
- Then, the employer blames the employee for reporting them on the discrimination.
- Finally, the employer retaliate against the employee for filing discrimination claim.
Examples of repercussion:
- Bad performance review.
- Firing of the employee after filing of the claim.
- Demotion of the employee.
- Harassment in the form of verbal or physical.
Any of these repercussion are consider discrimination of pregnant employees and should be reported for the offence.
So what can you do if you are discriminated due to your pregnancy?
You may approach respective organizations for help:
- United States: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for assistance.
- United Kingdom: Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)
- Canada: Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC)
- Australia: Fair Work Ombudsman
- Singapore: Association of Woman for Action and Research (AWARE)
In addition, if you want to learn the few important steps to protect yourself against pregnancy discrimination.
You can check out this article on,
“Misconceptions of Pregnant Workers’ Rights?”
Check out this video below!
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