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Three examples of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

Despite both California and federal laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, such discrimination still exists. Whether your pregnancy announcement causes your boss to treat you differently or your employer suddenly and mysteriously terminates your position, you may have options to hold your employer accountable for their actions.

Bloomberg recently reported on three separate pregnancy discrimination cases involving different companies and women at different stages of their careers. Involving a manager, six former employees and a co-founder/co-CEO, these examples show unfortunately that pregnancy discrimination occurs across roles and industries.

Example #1: A former manager at Netflix

The first lawsuit involves a former manager at Netflix’s International Originals department. The former manager, Tania Zarak, found herself cut off from projects after she revealed her pregnancy. When she complained about her supervisor’s behavior to her human resources department, Netflix subsequently fired her. Zarek also claims that despite Netflix’s generous one-year parental leave policy, supervisors expect parents to take only up to four months.

Example #2: Six former employees at Jones Day

The second lawsuit involves six former employees of Jones Day who allege a pattern of demoting and laying off women with children. Two of the former employees allege that after they returned to work following their maternity leaves, the company removed them from their former assignments. One of these women also received a poor performance review and a frozen salary. After their second maternity leaves, both women allege that they were told to find employment elsewhere.

Example #3: A former co-founder and co-CEO at Fetch

The third involves a co-founder and co-CEO of Fetch, who sued the company’s investors along with her husband after the board stripped their titles and operational control shortly after the birth of their child. Natasha Ashton and her husband, Chris, complained that the investors of their pet insurance company worried aloud about how the pregnancy would “derail an upcoming board meeting.”

All three lawsuits show a trend of shifting behaviors and actions after the revelation of pregnancy. For California employees experiencing discrimination at work, it can feel daunting to consider taking legal action against your company.

A good first step to address the discrimination is to review your company’s policy on reporting discriminatory behavior. If your company fails to take adequate action after you submit a complaint, you may consider other options such as filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

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