Many people know that it's illegal for an employer to ask about pregnancy during a job interview. Employers should not ask about plans to have children or marry, just as they should not ask if you currently have children.
For most women, however, there comes a point in pregnancy when asking a question isn't necessary anymore. Even those with great qualifications can struggle to find a position if they are obviously pregnant when interviewed. Because pregnancy discrimination is real but often unsaid, it can be incredibly difficult to find a good job when you're expecting a child. It can even be hard to keep the job you already have.
Many employers claim to follow federal anti-discrimination laws while covertly violating them. It is unfortunately common for companies to find issues with the work of women who they know are pregnant in an attempt to fire them.
Other companies decide to make the workplace hostile and intolerable to expectant mothers by allowing jokes at their expense or by refusing to accommodate medical needs during pregnancy. This kind of discrimination can result in job loss and loss of income for an expectant mother.
Pregnant Women Have a Right to Accommodations
Pregnancy is a protected medical condition under federal law. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act forbids employers from considering pregnancy when deciding on hiring, firing, raises, allocation of shifts, clients or leads and other aspects of jobs.
It is also important to note that many of the secondary medical conditions that can arise during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia (high blood pressure related to pregnancy) may fall under the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Your employer should try to accommodate your medical needs due to your pregnancy.
Many pregnant women need more frequent bathroom breaks during long shifts. Later in pregnancy, standing for long periods may no longer be healthy. Pregnant women also have limits to how much they can safely lift. This may mean that an expectant woman can no longer perform the same tasks as she did before pregnancy.
However, that doesn't mean an employer can fire or demote her. Instead, alternative tasks or work should get offered, to allow her to continue to contribute to the business without risking her health or the health of her unborn child.
If your employer has fired you or refuses to accommodate your needs while pregnant, that may be discrimination. Similarly, if your employer fails to address harassment or mistreatment from management or coworkers due to your pregnancy, that may also be discrimination. You should take careful notes, including details, names, times and dates, of harassment or discrimination. At a later time, such documentation could help you prove that the discrimination happened.