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Subtle signs of pregnancy discrimination at work

Many women work hard to balance their careers with motherhood. With supportive resources like maternity leave and workplace friendships, pregnant women in the 21st century may have little reason to expect discrimination. Nonetheless, the problem persists in many companies, even those that openly talk about creating inclusive communities.

You may be one of many working women going through pregnancy, and if you're used to having a friendly work environment, the signs of pregnancy discrimination may be harder to spot. Whether you feel uncomfortable or are almost sure you are experiencing discrimination, consider whether any of the following instances has happened to you:

  • You were forced to take time off or to reduce your workload: Maybe your boss asked you to take on fewer tasks or to take time off altogether, yet your stomach is barely showing and your doctor may have even given you the green light to continue working for now. Feeling like you are unnecessarily being told to reduce your time at work may be a sign that you are experiencing pregnancy discrimination.
  • Your maternity leave or any related request was denied: Perhaps the time has come for you to prioritize your rest, and it may be unwise for you to be lifting weights, driving a car or sitting at a desk from nine to five. Yet, your boss may have denied your request for maternity leave, possibly arguing that you do not really need it. You might have only requested to avoid doing certain tasks that could threaten your health, but you were still met with disapproval. If you feel that your boss is not recognizing your need to rest when it is crucial for you to do so, he or she may be treating you unfairly.
  • Previous talks about a raise or promotion have stopped: You might have noticed that your relationships with your leaders have changed significantly since you announced your pregnancy. Maybe you used to receive regular compliments on your hard work or were even talking about a potential salary raise, but now find that your manager is acting like these conversations never happened.

Discrimination based on pregnancy is illegal

Many signs of pregnancy discrimination can be discreet. It can be especially difficult to identify unfair treatment when your boss or colleague insists that their decisions are coming from a place of concern for you. Ultimately, discriminating against an employee because she is pregnant is illegal. If you are having trouble identifying signs of pregnancy discrimination yet feel uncomfortable at work, you may want to consult with a knowledgeable employment law attorney who can help protect your rights.

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