Employers are not allowed to discriminate against women at work based on pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions. Pregnancy discrimination can include denying time off or reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, firing or demoting a pregnant employee, forcing time off or restrictions on work, and other negative employment actions because of an employee’s pregnancy or related medical condition. You may have a claim for pregnancy discrimination if your employer:
- Refused to hire you after learning that you were pregnant;
- Fired or demoted you after learning you were pregnant;
- Denied you the same or a similar job after you returned from pregnancy leave; or,
- Treated you differently from other temporarily disabled employees.
Pregnancy-related conditions may also qualify as a temporary disability – for example, severe morning sickness, doctor-ordered bed rest, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, and similar medical conditions. Your employer must treat you equally with other employees with other temporary disabilities that do not involve pregnancy.
Common facts that may show pregnancy discrimination include:
- During an interview, an employer asks an applicant how many children she has and if she is planning to get pregnant again. The employer then tells her to apply again after she has her child and is ready to work.
- A female employee tells her boss that she is pregnant. Her boss fires her after learning the news, even though she is still able to work.
- A pregnant worker asks her supervisor if she can stop lifting heavy boxes during her pregnancy. The supervisor says no, even though another employee did not have to lift boxes at work while recovering from surgery.
- A pregnant worker needs to take time off to visit her doctor for prenatal care. She is docked and eventually disciplined for missing time from work, even though other workers who need ongoing medical treatment are not docked nor disciplined.
If you think your employer may have held your pregnancy against you, you should contact an employment attorney for assistance.