The glaring lack of paid parental leave and childcare in the United States is an international embarrassment. Parents, feminists, and countless others have noted it for decades.
That issue doesn’t get enough attention, and pressure on working parents hasn’t gone anywhere. Discrimination before childbirth is a related problem that’s at least as large but talked about even less.
Worse still, those experiencing pregnancy discrimination in the workplace do have recourse. They can file HR complaints and, sometimes, legal cases. When people don’t know their workplaces are wronging them per company policy and/or under the law, they can’t take those actions.
Take a look at these clear examples of discrimination against pregnant workers.
- Denying Promised Leave Time
As mentioned above, the serious lack of paid pregnancy leave in the United States exists because there’s no federal law mandating it. The sad truth is that it’s ultra-easy to force pregnant people to work since many can’t afford unpaid time off. Even so, some employers are so intent on denying pregnant people leave that they break laws to do so.
Examples of this kind of pregnancy discrimination include but aren’t limited to: denying leave outright, forcing workers to use up their usual sick days or vacation days while pregnant or after childbirth, and threatening unemployment if a pregnant person needs time off.
If you’re unable to perform your job while pregnant or your doctor says you shouldn’t work, your workplace can’t fire you for staying home in the USA. If you’re not able to work while pregnant, your employer has to give you time off as they would for other medical conditions.
After childbirth, companies with at least 50 people need to provide at least 12 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave each year. After parents use that time, your employer may or may not let you use sick or vacation days for family-related reasons. In any case, they have to treat you as they treat employees who aren’t pregnant.
- Forcing Pregnancy Leave
As common as denying leave is, sometimes the opposite thing is an issue. Some employers refuse to let employees work from the moment they learn they’re pregnant. They refuse…but they’re not allowed to in the USA!
It may not make sense at first that any employer would want their employees to miss work. However, this attitude comes from several nasty places.
First and foremost, employers see pregnancy as an excuse to not pay workers that may not be at their most efficient. Other higher-ups are bigoted against pregnant people and, often, against all women. Whether it’s conscious or not, they seize upon pregnancy as an excuse to put their sexism into action.
In some cases, forcing pregnancy leave comes with caring intent. Still, if the job with accommodations is safe for a pregnant person to work and the employee is capable of doing so, required leave isn’t allowed.
No matter the intent, at the end of the day, forced pregnancy leave makes pregnant employees lose the income they want to earn. Not everybody can afford to take unpaid leave—even less so when they’re about to have kids.
- Lack of Accommodations
Denying accommodations is among the very most common types of discrimination in the workplace. That’s because so many folks in all kinds of situations need accommodations.
The majority of people denied accommodations have disabilities and aren’t pregnant. In the United States, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) gives them legal protection. The US Department of Labor is the organization that enforces accommodations for pregnant people.
Accommodation laws aren’t a blank check: A requested accommodation has to be “reasonable.”
A few of many reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees include additional and/or extended restroom breaks, a place to sit, and exemption from heavy lifting. If you’re not sure whether your request is reasonable, consult a legal expert.
- Prohibiting Breast Milk Pumping
Much of why these offenses remain major issues is that they’re a kind of gender discrimination in the workplace that affects pregnant women and transgender people who were assigned female at birth.
In many cases, discrimination against those groups focuses on their bodies. Forcing nursing employees to pump breast milk in the bathroom or prohibiting it outright is no different. The basic rule is that employers must allow workers to pump, and need to designate a place that isn’t a bathroom where they can do it.
Some states and cities have more laws about where pumping and breastfeeding is and isn’t allowed. Some private companies also choose to give their workers more protection.
In general, employers don’t have to let you pump somewhere like the open work area, for example. What they do have to do is provide a lactation room or other private area where you can pump that isn’t in the bathroom. They have to do this whether or not they allow breast milk pumping elsewhere.
- Harassment as Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace
A frequent misunderstanding among many workers is that discrimination—or a ruling against it—has to come from your superiors to “count” or have consequences for the instigator. This is a sad misconception, as harassment is one of the most common types of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.
Some harassment indeed comes from bosses, managers, and the like. As there are many more lower-level workers that interact with one another at most workplaces, a larger percentage comes from victims’ peers.
Superiors and HR managers don’t always pay attention to complaints, no matter whether the accused harasser is a higher-up or a coworker. Despite how common that response is, it’s illegal.
If you feel your employers or coworkers are harassing or bullying you about anything to do with being pregnant, talk to a legal professional. A workplace discrimination attorney or family lawyer from a group such as this local law firm in Florida will let you know what recourse you have.
Everything You Need for a Better Professional Life
These examples of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace give you some things to look out for to protect yourself and others at your job. With a better idea of what qualifies as discrimination, you’ll know when to seek legal help.
For more essential information to improve your professional life, look around the site. We have more business articles, and plenty of entertainment articles to help you relax during your time off. Click on another article to give your life a boost today.