It's been over 35 years since the Pregnancy and Discrimination Act was passed, and yet pregnant women are still discriminated against in the work force. Such discrimination is illegal, but it can happen even before you become pregnant, through pregnancy and childbirth, and even after your child is born. It's important to know what pregnancy discrimination looks like and what laws protect you from such discrimination.
What is pregnancy discrimination? How do you know if you are being discriminated against?
Some of the more obvious forms of pregnancy discrimination include being fired from a job, forced out of a job, not hired for a job, not promoted or having job responsibilities taken away due to pregnancy. While your employer should not take away your job responsibilities, they also should not give you any responsibilities that could be harmful to you or your baby, for example lifting heavy objects.
There are more subtle forms of pregnancy discrimination as well, which can start even before you become pregnant. An employer should never refuse to hire you based on the thought that you may become pregnant in the future. This should not even be a topic of discussion at an interview.
Pregnancy discrimination also extends past the time you are pregnant and when you are back on the job. Your employer should give you adequate time and space for breast pumping. This includes:
- A clean, private area
- 30 minute breaks to pump every 4 hours
- A refrigerator or place to store a cooler
In addition, you should not be forced to work in a hostile environment because of your pregnancy. Rude remarks from supervisors based on your role as a caregiver as well as accusations of poor work quality are examples of discrimination. You should be treated like any other worker with a temporary disability. Your employer cannot treat you differently or reprimand you for taking personal days.
What can you do if you face pregnancy discrimination in the workplace?
Fortunately, there are many laws to protect your rights as a pregnant woman and a caregiver, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. In addition, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants you 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for a family member, including your new baby. This is similar to the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), which covers you under the following conditions:
- Your employer has 25 or more employees
- You work at least 24 hours per week
- You have been at your current place of employment for at least 6 months
In addition, there is no specific law to address family responsibilities discrimination, such as being reprimanded for taking personal days. However, such issues are covered the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and FMLA.
Having a baby is a wonderful and exciting time in your life, and no employer should take that away from you. If you feel you are experiencing pregnancy discrimination, it's imperative for you and your family that you stand up for your rights. The laws are in place to protect you and your baby, so make sure you are a good advocate for yourself, and hire an experienced attorney to fight for you and your rights.