Discrimination at work can take on many forms, and one form that is not as widely discussed is pregnancy. While it's logical that women become pregnant, can still perform their job duties during that time in most circumstances, and then need some time off to have their child and recuperate from the experience, some employers still see pregnancy as a way to discriminate against women. These employers may use a number of tactics to get pregnant women to quit their jobs, or to find ways they can attempt to justify firing them.
One recent case of this type of discriminatory behavior was against Chipotle, where an employee received $550,000 because she was fired essentially just for being pregnant. Her water and bathroom breaks were restricted, and she was refused when she needed to leave early to attend a doctor's appointment. When she left to go to the appointment anyway, she was fired. Since these kinds of restrictions were not given to other employees who were not pregnant, the court ruled in her favor.
What Is Pregnancy Discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination means that an employer treats an employee or an applicant unfairly because that person is pregnant or has given birth recently. If the person has any kind of medical condition related to childbirth or pregnancy, it can also be discriminatory to treat them unfairly because of that condition. The PDA (Pregnancy Discrimination Act) makes this unfair treatment a violation of the law in every aspect of employment. That includes not just hiring and firing, but also training, promotions, insurance, and benefits.
In short, a pregnant employee must be treated the same as other employees. If the employee cannot perform the job because of a condition related to pregnancy that equals a temporary disability. Being treated the same way as any other employee experiencing a disability on a temporary basis is very important, as that leaves no room for pregnancy discrimination. Employers have to provide reasonable accommodation under the ADA for any employee with a disability, and that includes women who experience complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
What Should You Do If You Are Facing Pregnancy Discrimination?
If you believe you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination, you can file with the EEOC. You may also want to retain the services of an attorney. That is not required to file with the EEOC, but having an attorney on your side can make it easier for you to navigate through the process. If you file a lawsuit, you also want a legal advocate to work with you on your case. That way you will be able to have the highest chance of success, and can ensure that your pregnancy discrimination case is heard fairly.