Pregnant women may be victims of discrimination

Data indicates that pregnant women are often the focus of biased employment decisions, including unfair termination. Harassment is also common.

Some mothers have the option to stay at home with their children while their spouses earn an income sufficient to pay their living expenses. However, for many in California, this is not a desirable situation, and for others it is not a possibility. Those that remain in the workforce during their pregnancy may face temporary physical disabilities related to their conditions that make it difficult to complete their job duties. Employers must not discriminate against these women based on pregnancy.

Statistics and bias against pregnant women

There are federal laws that protect pregnant women from unfair employment decisions such as demotions, terminations or denial of benefits. Even so, the Washington Post reports that according to 2013 statistics, many employers still discriminate against these women.

Data indicates that women in social assistance jobs and those working in health care filed the most pregnancy discrimination claims with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Two California cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco, were among the top 15 for the number of claims filed. Blue-collar workers were the most likely to file claims.

Pregnancy health issues and temporary disability

According to the EEOC, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act mandates that a pregnant woman with a disability related to her condition must receive the same benefits and accommodations that are offered to any employee who suffers from a non-pregnancy-related temporary disability. These accommodations may include allowing her to substitute regular tasks for others, modify her work station or be assigned light duty. Some medical impairments may also be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

An employer may expect a pregnant employee to be subject to the policies and procedures that apply to other employees who suffer from a temporary disability.

Discrimination and harassment

In addition to affecting hiring and firing decisions, bias against pregnant women may involve denying earned pay raises or promotions, passing them over for desirable assignments or failing to provide them with training.

The PDA protects pregnant women from being harassed on the job because of their condition. A single comment may not be considered harassment, but a woman who is continuously subjected to hostile or offensive comments by a supervisor, another employee or a person outside the company may be the victim of illegal behavior.

A woman who believes that she is being treated negatively based on her pregnancy, or her ability to become pregnant, may be able to file a charge with the EEOC. This step must be completed before she may file litigation with the legal system. An attorney who is familiar with employment law in California may be able to provide advice and representation to hold the responsible parties liable for the damages.