Pregnant workers are still regularly discriminated against

For numerous short-sighted reasons, pregnant women are still regularly discriminated against in the American workplace. This seems like a particularly odd form of discrimination given that pregnancy is temporary and the majority of pregnant women require few reasonable accommodations, if any.

Sadly, pregnancy discrimination remains a significant problem in California and throughout the United States. Moreover, this form of discrimination may be harder to spot than it has been in the past because employers often try to disguise pregnancy-related firings and other retaliatory actions as responses to seemingly unrelated work issues.

According to a recent study, there are several common ways in which employers try to mask pregnancy discrimination. In two of these scenarios, pregnant women are disciplined or fired for seemingly legitimate conduct issues such as “chronic tardiness” and “poor work performance.”

Although these are legal reasons to fire and discipline employees, the benchmark for discrimination rests on one question: Does the employer enforce these standards uniformly among all employees? If pregnant women seem especially likely to be called out on tardiness or poor work performance, the employer may be engaging in illegal pregnancy discrimination.

The third common scenario involves layoffs of pregnant women for reasons of “business needs, profit and efficiency.” An employer may tell a pregnant woman she is being laid off because the company is downsizing and needs to cut staff in order to stay financially solvent. But if the employer then hires replacement employees a short time later, this could be indicative of pregnancy discrimination.

If you are a working woman who is pregnant or plans to become pregnant in the near future, please make sure that you understand your rights and protections under the law. And if you feel that you may have already become a victim of pregnancy discrimination, please share your concerns with an experienced employment law attorney.

Source: Consumer Affairs, “Study: pregnant employees still subject to discrimination,” Mark Huffman, Feb. 26, 2014

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