You are a successful businesswoman, and now you are preparing to take on the challenge of motherhood. You feel like you finally have it all – a great career and a growing family. But your company may not be quite as thrilled about your pregnancy as you are. Are you facing workplace discrimination due to your pregnancy?
What are your rights?
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) protects you from workplace discrimination due to pregnancy. Your company cannot fire you, withhold a promotion, refuse to hire you, force you to change daily tasks, deny you training, offer lower pay or diminish your benefits because of pregnancy.
Pregnancy and childbirth can take a toll on your body and lead to serious medical conditions such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. If you experience any medical condition that prevents you from performing your job at the same level as before, you are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Your employer must provide reasonable accommodation that allows you to adequately perform your role.
How do you know if you are facing discrimination?
It can be difficult to know if you are facing discrimination due to pregnancy.
• Determine their motives. If you were passed over for a promotion, was it pregnancy related, or was your co-worker better qualified for the job?
• Analyze changes in attitude. Are your coworkers are treating you differently? Had your manager stopped assigning you challenging projects? Are you being left out of team meetings? Are you left off of important email chains?
• Take note of hostility. Do your coworkers make hostile comments about your pregnancy? Do you feel uncomfortable going into the office each day? Have you started receiving harsh criticism of your work?
What should you do if you experience discrimination?
If you think that you are facing discrimination, do not keep it to yourself.
• Speak with your supervisor. Bring concerns to your supervisor. Be honest about coworker hostility, and say something if you feel like you are missing out on career opportunities. If your supervisor is the problem, approach your human resources representative instead.
• Speak with Human Resources. Human Resources can be great internal advocate for discriminated employees. Explain your situation and work with them to determine next steps. Discuss company policy and how to protect your interests at work.
• Contact an attorney. If you think that your employer is violating your rights, consider contacting an attorney who can help you regain your workplace rights. They can also help you determine whether you should seek financial compensation for this breach in treatment.