Federal law provides that an employer cannot discriminate against female employees because they are pregnant. The law treats pregnancy as a medical condition: employers have to treat pregnant women the same way they treat employees with other medical conditions with similar employment effects. Unfortunately pregnancy discrimination claims are on the rise according to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
Do I have to stop working or change the type of work I do because I am pregnant?
Generally no. Even if your employment conditions could be deemed dangerous to the fetus, your employer cannot force you to quit or change the type of work you perform. It is up to the employee to decide whether she wants to continue work that might be considered dangerous.
Can my employer require me to tell it I am pregnant by a certain time?
It depends on your employer’s policies. If you will be taking leave, you have to follow the notice requirements set by your employer. Generally those requirements should be the same for anyone taking a family or medical leave. The notice requirements cannot differ based on the reason for the leave. For example, your employer cannot require 90 days notice of a pregnancy leave and only 30 days notice to care for an ailing parent.
How do I know if I have a pregnancy discrimination claim?
Pregnancy discrimination claims are generally proven through circumstantial evidence, just as any other discrimination claim is proven. If your employer begins treating you differently after you announce your pregnancy, you should keep note of how you have been treated. Does your employer treat other people the same way as it has treated you? Does it have a habit of treating pregnant women a certain way? Are you suddenly having performance problems that were not an issue before you announced your pregnancy? Ask your employer to clarify any alleged problems so you can remedy the situation. Keep as many written records of communication as you can. That circumstantial evidence will be important if you decide to pursue a claim.
What do I do if I was the victim of pregnancy discrimination?
There are procedures you must follow to preserve your claim. There are also strict timelines for such claims. You should consider hiring an employment attorney right away if you have been the target of discrimination.