Pregnancy discrimination is a form of workplace discrimination that occurs when expectant people or people who have recently given birth are treated unfairly or differently due to their pregnancy status. This type of discrimination can manifest in various ways — some subtle and others more overt.
Understanding what pregnancy discrimination looks like is essential because without this knowledge, mistreatment is more likely to continue and to affect more and more individuals.
Common ways in which pregnancy discrimination manifests
Among the most common signs of pregnancy discrimination is negative comments that often involve stereotypes related to pregnancy. This can include remarks about a woman’s ability to perform her job, her commitment to the company or assumptions about her plans after childbirth.
Pregnancy discrimination may also involve being treated unfairly compared to non-pregnant colleagues. This could include being passed over for promotions, being given undesirable assignments or experiencing a sudden negative shift in performance evaluations.
Additionally, if an employee asserts their rights regarding pregnancy-related accommodations or discrimination, and the employer responds with negative actions such as reprimands, demotions or termination, it likely constitutes retaliation and is both discriminatory and illegal.
Finally, because pregnant employees have the right to reasonable accommodations under the law – such as modified work duties or flexible schedules to attend medical appointments – if an employer denies these accommodations unreasonably or makes it difficult for an employee to access them, it may be a form of discrimination.
Ultimately, because pregnancy discrimination in the workplace can take many forms and isn’t always easy to spot, it’s crucial to recognize the signs to protect the rights of expectant people and those who have recently given birth. That way, those who are affected will be more likely to seek the protections that the law affords them. Just keep in mind that if you’ve been mistreated and you’re unsure of whether your situation is legally actionable, you can seek legal guidance at any time.