Being pregnant is supposed to be a time in life filled with excitement and anticipation. But for too many women, being pregnant means being treated unfairly at work. While this can lead to discomfort in the workplace, it can also lead to adverse employment decisions, including demotion, changed hours or work assignments, decreased pay, and even termination.
That’s why if you feel like you were treated unjustly on account of your pregnancy, then you need to analyze the facts of your situation more fully to determine if you were subjected to discrimination.
Signs of pregnancy discrimination
Once you become suspicious that you’ve been discriminated against, you should look for the following signs that may help confirm your position:
- You were asked about your pregnancy or your intent to have children: An employer might ask you questions to try to gauge whether your personality will be a good fit for the position and the office’s culture. However, if an employer starts asking you about your pregnancy or your intent to have kids, then that might be a sign that the employer doesn’t want to deal with issues related to maternity or paternity leave and that any hiring decision may be based on that likelihood.
- Your employer continues to probe you about having children: Even after you’re hired, your employer might continue to gauge whether you plan on having children. Again, they do this to see if they have to deal with any leave issues in the future, which may spur them to preventatively replace your or change your work assignments. Keep in mind, too, then even statements that are guised as jokes can be indicative of discrimination.
- Your employer makes statements about you not being able to keep up: If you’re pregnant, then your employer may keep asking if you’re okay or joke about you not being able to keep up because of your medical condition. This may be your employer’s attempt to lay the groundwork for a justification for dismissal.
- The denial of a requested accommodation: Just like individuals with a disability, your employer should provide you with any reasonable accommodations that you request. Of course, there are some limitations on these requests, but your employer should at least engage in a conversation about these accommodations and try to meet you somewhere in the middle if at all possible. If they don’t, then they might be trying to force you out of your job.
- Sudden changes in work assignments: If your employer suddenly changes your job duties without much explanation, then there’s a chance that the modification was made based on your pregnancy. This might be a telltale sign that you’re being treated differently than your coworkers.
What should you do if you’ve been discriminated against?
While you’ll eventually want to report the matter to your employer and perhaps even file a legal claim, you should only do so after you have strong evidence to show that discrimination has, in fact, occurred. This evidence may take the shape of communications with your employer or observed treatment of you as an employee.
Just remember that your employer is going to try to claim that it was justified in taking an adverse employment action against you. Therefore, you’ll want to consider your work performance history and how that may come into play in your case.
Do you need a legal ally on your side?
There’s a lot on the line when you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace. That’s why you may want to work closely with an experienced employment law professional who knows how to navigate these oftentimes challenging cases.
If you want to learn more about what one of these attorneys can do for you, then you might want to go ahead and reach out to one to discuss your unique set of circumstances further.