The State of Pregnancy Discrimination in America

By: Eva Zelson
On: September 30, 2022

a pregnant woman working

What qualifies as pregnancy discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer takes a negative action against an employee because of pregnancy or denies reasonable accommodations during the pregnancy. Pregnancy discrimination can take a variety of forms. For example, an employer cannot refuse to hire or promote a pregnant person because they know that the soon-to-be mother will soon be entitled to maternity leave. Similarly, employers must respect requests for reasonable accommodations if such accommodations would allow the employee to perform job duties without disrupting the overall functioning of the company’s operations. For example, a pregnant cashier should be able to request a place to sit on during a shift because such an accommodation would allow that employee to continue performing the duties of the job, and would not be too disruptive to the store’s operations. There are many instances that could qualify as pregnancy discrimination. If you believe you have been discriminated against due to your pregnancy status, reach out to a pregnancy discrimination attorney.

How common is pregnancy discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination was formally outlawed in the United States when the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed in 1978. This law added pregnancy as a type of sex discrimination prohibited in professional settings. In general, this law requires employers to provide pregnant employees accommodations to facilitate their ability to continue working while pregnant. Despite the clear prohibition against pregnancy discrimination, thousands of people face discrimination because of their pregnancy status every day. In fact, a survey conducted by Childbirth Connection determined that the employers of approximately 250,000 women denied their requests for basic accommodations and that many claimed they were not required to allow accommodations for pregnancy-related needs. Unfortunately, this study means that many employees are not getting protections afforded by the law. As a result, many need the help of a pregnancy discrimination attorney to address these issues head-on.

Does pregnancy discrimination happen more often in male dominated industries?

Studies on pregnancy discrimination appear to confirm that pregnancy discrimination tends to happen more frequently in industries that are male-dominated. Statistically speaking, women are more likely to be fired when they report their pregnancy status in male-dominated industries and are less likely to be hired in the first place. Furthermore, similar studies also demonstrate that companies or businesses that tend to have more males in management are more discriminatory towards pregnant employees than organizations that are run by women or have an equal number of women.

A pregnant woman standing

Pregnancy Discrimination is unique in that it often happens very quickly

One characteristic that sets pregnancy discrimination apart from other forms of discrimination is that it can manifest itself very suddenly, whereas other types of discrimination, such as discrimination based on race, age, or disability is frequently more nuanced and takes place over the course of time. On the other hand, pregnancy discrimination can occur almost immediately after an employee discloses that they are going to have a child. In other words, an employee might otherwise not face discrimination while working for a company, but immediately feel as though they have been denied employment opportunities, or fired, as soon as they inform their employer about the pregnancy.

Why is the EEOC not well-designed for pregnancy discrimination cases?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the federal agency tasked with administering and enforcing civil rights laws and preventing discrimination in the workplace. Among the many responsibilities the EEOC has, it is also in charge investigating pregnancy discrimination complaints in the workplace. Unfortunately, EEOC claims can often take longer to resolve than it takes to carry a baby to term. Therefore, the opportunity for employees to obtain redress for the negative employment action – or prevent the discriminatory act in the first place – happens too late. As a result, when you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your pregnancy, you should contact a pregnancy discrimination attorney as soon as possible to get your claim in motion.

How do you win a pregnancy discrimination case?

A successful pregnancy discrimination case can be demonstrated by presenting evidence that a negative employment action was taken upon announcing a pregnancy or by demonstrating that an employer was unwilling to work with an employee to offer reasonable accommodations. An experienced pregnancy discrimination attorney can help you identify specific evidence that will support your case and increase your chances of winning your case.

When should you contact a pregnancy discrimination lawyer?

If you have recently announced your pregnancy and have lost your job or a promotion opportunity, or if your employer refuses to work with you to ensure can continue to do your job while optimizing chances for a healthy pregnancy, you should immediately contact a pregnancy discrimination attorney. At Zeff Law Firm, we will investigate your claim and inform you of your legal options to protect your rights as an employee.

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