Pregnancy Discrimination FAQ

Pregnancy is supposed to be a joyful time where you anticipate and prepare for the birth of your child. Although it can also be a stressful time, that stress should not come from discrimination from your employer.

Talking to a skilled attorney about pregnancy discrimination can be an important step to getting a resolution or settlement in your case. A lawyer can help you understand the process of making a claim and the steps you should follow.

What Is Pregnancy Discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination happens when an employer takes a negative action against an employee because she is pregnant.

While a pregnant employee can pose some challenges for an employer, taking a negative action against an employee because she is pregnant is illegal. This means that actions such as refusing to promote, firing and demoting a pregnant employee are not permitted.

Keep in mind that employers cannot require employees to give notice that they are or plan to become pregnant unless there is a legitimate business reason behind the requirement. Employers must consider pregnant employees the same as other employees for all purposes, including hiring and promotions.

What Are Some Of The Common Ways Employers Will Discriminate Against A Pregnant Employee?

A pregnant employee must be able to continue working for as long as she is physically capable of doing the job. Often, employers will make assumptions about what a pregnant person can or cannot do, which will lead to taking a discriminatory action.

Common actions taken against pregnant employees include:

  • Change in job duties
  • Refusal to promote
  • Refusal to hire
  • Refusal to make reasonable accommodations
  • Wrongful termination
  • Reduced or changed hours

Do I Have To Tell My Boss I Am Pregnant?

No, you do not have to tell your employer you are pregnant or if you plan to become pregnant. Also, an employer is not allowed to ask in an interview if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. The only time an employer is permitted to ask about pregnancy is if there is a legitimate business purpose behind the question.

What Accommodations Must An Employer Make For A Pregnant Employee?

If you are pregnant, and temporarily unable to perform your job due to a medical condition related to the pregnancy, your employer must make the same or similar accommodations to you that it provides to other temporarily-disabled employees.

That means that if you need a reasonable accommodation to your environment, schedule or duties, you need to ask your employer for it.

What Steps Should I Take If I Have Been A Victim Of Pregnancy Discrimination?

If you have faced pregnancy discrimination in your workplace, you should start by talking to your company's human resources department or representative. Follow all the steps that they give you, and keep a record of everything they ask you to do and when you did it. You should also track the progress of your report, including:

  • Actions your company has taken to resolve the matter
  • Additional incidents
  • Meetings regarding your report
  • Changes in your duties or schedule
  • Requests or accommodations you make/have made

If you are unable to get results from your company's process, or your company has no process for making a claim, you should talk to an attorney who is skilled in discrimination law and knows how to handle a discrimination case. You should also talk to a lawyer if you have followed your company's procedure and are not seeing any action on their part.

What State And Federal Protections Exist For Pregnant Employees?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was added to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect pregnant people from discrimination in the workplace. Depending on where you live and work, there may be state and local laws that offer more protection in a discrimination case. Keep in mind that state and local laws can offer more protection than the federal laws, but not less.