The realities of pregnancy can influence what work someone can do and can also (potentially and unfairly) harm their career. Although pregnancy discrimination, like sex discrimination in general, is against the law, many employers treat women differently in unlawful ways after they become pregnant.
Those who understand what pregnancy discrimination looks like may have an easier time spotting it and fighting back against it. The following are some of the most common ways that pregnancy discrimination manifests in the modern workplace.
Refusing to provide accommodations
Every woman’s pregnancy is unique, and some women can continue working challenging blue-collar jobs up until the last days of their pregnancy. Other women will develop high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and other medical challenges that will affect their ability to do certain work. Doctors may recommend frequent breaks, shorter shifts or limits on lifting, standing and twisting. Employers should work with women who require changed job responsibilities or assistive technology to protect themselves during pregnancy. The refusal to provide such accommodations is a very common type of pregnancy discrimination.
Denying unpaid leave
Some Employers in Michigan offer maternity leave benefits that allow women to take a specific number of days or weeks away from their job after giving birth. However, there’s no longer acquiring such leave. Many women will only be eligible for unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if their employment history at the company meets certain requirements. Provided that the FMLA does apply based on company size and employment history, workers shouldn’t have to worry about a company refusing to grant them time off after the birth of their child.
Retaliating when a woman returns
Pregnancy discrimination often culminates in someone’s termination or demotion, and those seemingly retaliatory actions often don’t happen when a woman first reports her pregnancy. Instead, the company will bide its time, potentially hoping that the woman will not try to return to her job after her leave. Those that do return may find themselves pushed into a different position, paid less or facing inappropriate disciplinary efforts.
Women should not have to worry that pregnancy will have a permanent, negative impact on their careers. Fighting back against workplace pregnancy discrimination can compensate a woman for an employer’s inappropriate actions and possibly push that company into treating pregnant workers better in the future.