Treating a woman unfavorably because of pregnancy and childbirth has been against the law for decades.
However, there are between 2,000 and 4,000 pregnancy discrimination claims annually in the federal workplace.
While pregnancy discrimination may seem explanatory to some, it’s wise to educate yourself on what it is. Education is important if you or a loved one are facing pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.
As dedicated federal employment attorneys, it is our honor and passion to educate workers on every aspect of their rights. Read on to learn more about pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.
We’ll cover the definition of pregnancy and relate the laws that protect pregnant women. Then, we’ll unpack how you can fight pregnancy discrimination.
If you still have questions about pregnancy discrimination or wish to consult an attorney, contact us right away.
What Is Pregnancy Discrimination?
According to the EEOC, pregnancy discrimination occurs when employers treat women unfavorably because of pregnancy or childbirth.
Pregnancy discrimination may also happen because of a pregnancy-related physical or mental disability, such as postpartum depression. The prohibition against discrimination extends to every aspect of employment.
So, it’s discrimination if an employee faces negative consequences like termination or demotion because she’s pregnant or given birth.
It’s also illegal for an agency to alter a pregnant woman’s work schedule, transfer her, or exclude her from meetings.
What Laws Prohibit Pregnancy Discrimination?
Several laws interface together to prohibit pregnancy-based discrimination and harassment. These include:
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The PDA is a part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and it prohibits discrimination predicated on childbirth, pregnancy, or any associated conditions. It applies to both the federal workplace and the vast majority of companies in the private sector.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Although pregnancy itself isn’t a disability, certain pregnancy-related conditions may qualify. In such cases, the ADA mandates employers to provide reasonable accommodations to the affected employee.
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). FLSA provides additional protections to nursing mothers. It requires employers to provide break time and a private space for mothers to express breast milk for a year after the child’s birth.
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). While not only about pregnancy, the FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific reasons, including childbirth and newborn care. Employers must hold the employee’s job or provide an equivalent one upon return.
Pregnancy rights recently took a great leap forward with the passage of the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA). FEPLA grants new mothers and fathers up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave.
Collectively, these laws give substantial rights to employees. And employers must always respect those rights.
How to Respond to Pregnancy Discrimination
Facing pregnancy discrimination at work? It’s tough, but here’s a step-by-step on how to handle it:
- Document everything. As soon as you sense discrimination, start keeping a record. Log who was involved, what happened, where it happened, and when it happened.
- Get witnesses if possible. Witnesses frequently play an outsized role in the outcome of discrimination claims. Consequently, make sure you contact witnesses to any interaction.
- Review policies. Brush up on your workplace’s anti-discrimination and complaint policies. Know where you stand and what processes they have in place.
- Speak up. Schedule a talk with your supervisor or HR department and mention your concerns if you are comfortable. From time to time, reporting the discrimination to HR or management can bring it to an end.
- File a formal complaint. If talking to your manager seems unsafe or dangerous, file a complaint with your agency’s EEO office. Stick to the facts and avoid letting emotions take over.
- Seek legal counsel. Generally, consulting a federal employment attorney as soon as possible is wise. They’ll provide critical guidance, especially if the discrimination leads to termination or other significant employment changes.
Finally, take care of yourself. Pregnancy discrimination takes a toll. It’s essential to seek support, whether through friends or family. Your well-being is crucial.
Defend Your Rights by Contacting Us Today
Nobody ever imagines themselves having to deal with pregnancy discrimination. Therefore, it can be confusing and difficult to respond to. However, you’re not alone.
A qualified attorney can partner with you to defend your rights and hold bad actors accountable.
At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, we specialize exclusively in federal employment law.
That means we’ve seen all kinds of discrimination cases, including pregnancy discrimination. On top of that, we’re passionate about defending federal employees against illegal workplace discrimination.
So, let’s work together to make federal workplaces free from pregnancy discrimination.
Call us today or contact us online to set up a free initial consultation.