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Recognizing pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

If you have experienced adverse treatment in the workplace because you are pregnant, you may be a victim of pregnancy discrimination. A regrettable but very real issue facing many working American women, pregnancy discrimination is a collective term for the various forms of mistreatment you may experience because of your pregnancy or related medical condition.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects you from pregnancy discrimination in your place of business. More specifically, it dictates that your employer may not do any of the following because you are a pregnant woman or a woman with a pregnancy-related health issue.

Make hiring or firing decisions based on pregnancy

Your employer may not lawfully terminate your employment because of your pregnancy. If you are seeking employment as a pregnant woman, prospective employers may not take your pregnancy into account when determining whether to hire you.

Treat you differently than other disabled employees

Your employer must make the same accommodations for you because of your pregnancy that he or she would make for any other employee who has a temporary disability due to something other than pregnancy. For example, if your employer gives a lighter workload to others with temporary disabilities, he or she must do the same for you.

Pay you less or demote you because of your pregnancy

Your employer may not cut your salary or hours because of your pregnancy, and he or she also may not demote you to a lower position because of your status as a pregnant woman. For example, if you typically work a front-desk job, your employer may not ban you to a back office simply because you are visibly pregnant.

Harass you because you are pregnant

You have a right to a harassment-free work environment, and being pregnant does not change this. If you experience pregnancy-related harassment on the job, whether by an employer, a colleague or even a customer or client, you may be able to seek legal recourse. Talk to an attorney to see if you have a case.

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