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How the law protects workers from pregnancy discrimination

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2021 | Workplace Discrimination |

Many workers struggle with the thought of becoming pregnant. They may want to do so, but they’re worried that they’ll lose their job if they do. They may be worried about being replaced while on maternity leave and told not to come back.

Furthermore, even workers who may become pregnant could feel stressed when applying for jobs, worrying that companies will turn them down simply because they are the right age or seem open to the idea. Needless to say, those who are actively seeking jobs while pregnant have some of the same concerns.

You can see how unfair it is to deny people a role in the workplace on these grounds, so what does the law do to protect them?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act offers protections for many workers, stating that they cannot be discriminated against due to:

  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Medical conditions related to either of the above
  • Gender

Examples of prohibited discrimination include things like firing the worker, demoting them, cutting their pay or hours, and much more. Essentially, it is illegal to treat these workers differently than anyone else simply because of their pregnancy, and the company has to reasonably accommodate them.

Unfortunately, this act alone does not apply to every company. An employer is only bound by it if they have at least 15 employees.

Do you have to notify them?

The law also protects your right to privacy. The company cannot have a mandate that any pregnant workers — or those who are trying to become pregnant — have to report it. They also can’t ask you about it during an interview. This is your private information, for one thing, and it also should not impact your employment anyway — meaning there’s no legal reason your employer would want to know. The only exception is when there is a “legitimate business purpose” for having employees report the pregnancy to a supervisor.

Have you been discriminated against?

The law strives to protect workers, but discrimination does still happen. If it has happened to you, be sure you know what legal steps to take.