Years After Passing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Pregnant Employees Still Face Workplace Discrimination
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was signed into law in 1978, as an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yet here we are, over forty years later, and pregnancy discrimination is still rampant in workplaces around the country.
This week’s Scarlet Letter author says:
I told my supervisors, a woman and a man, I was pregnant at 13 weeks.
My female supervisor was excited for me, and gave me a hug, and respected my wish to not announce it broadly until I was ready. We’d emailed information about updated procedures on how to file for FMLA leave, and she had even looked it up for me before I could get back to my office. She also planned how to assign my tasks to coworkers so that I could still meet benchmarks but not overly burden others in the office.
My male supervisor cracked a joke about how women working in the old days were expected to have the baby on the job and get back to work.
My pregnancy was, at best, an inconvenience for him. I had trouble getting a meeting with him when I came back from maternity leave to fill me in on the part of my work he’d covered, which put me behind when our next quarterly quotas came around.
Our author’s experience with her employer is unfortunately all too common. Pregnancy discrimination can be overt, such as being fired or having their hours cut. Or it can be subtle, like being passed by for hire or a promotion.
The more subtle practices employers utilize, such as not sending a pregnant employee on the annual business trip because the employer insists “they should really take time to rest” or “it might not be safe for to travel”, are all too common. Employers take it upon themselves to decide what is healthy for a woman and her pregnancy.
In doing so, they potentially damage a persons career.
A person might be denied a request for accommodation, such as light duty or temporarily not working with certain chemicals. This may stem from from negative perceptions or stereotypes about the capacities and abilities of pregnant women. Factors such as race or economic status can influence whether pregnant women in the United States are expected to continue working, and these views can affect how they are treated in the workplace. This is especially prevalent for low-wage workers who often don’t have a lot of bargaining power in the workplace.
In today’s example, our writer experienced:
Discrimination: Our writer was treated differently by her male supervisor after he learned of her pregnancy. Upon learning the news, he made inappropriate jokes and refused to make himself available to catch-up on job related items after her return from leave. He made it clear that her pregnancy was an inconvenience to him. No one should be discriminated against due to any medical condition, including pregnancy. The supervisors actions were uncalled for.
The bottom line is pregnancy discrimination is still commonplace even though it has been illegal for over four decades. Continued advocacy is necessary to defend the rights of pregnant workers. If you have experienced workplace harassment, discrimination, or bullying please know you are not alone.
Enlightened Solutions has not verified the accuracy of these stories. All stories are submitted anonymously and are published with the intent of allowing people to speak about their workplace situations without identifying information