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What does pregnancy discrimination look like?

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2022 | Wrongful Termination

Working while you’re pregnant can be difficult. You may not be feeling well on many of the days that you’re at work, and your energy levels might be significantly decreased. Or you may be struggling to find a job or obtain a promotion. As difficult as that may be, matters can be made worse when you’re subjected to discrimination on account of your condition. This is unacceptable, and those who discriminate against you for being pregnant need to be held accountable.

What constitutes pregnancy discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination can take many forms, all of which include you, as a pregnant woman, being treated unfavorably. Examples of pregnancy discrimination include:

  • Not being hired because you’re pregnant
  • Getting fired or demoted because you’re pregnant
  • Being denied the same or similar position when you return from a pregnancy-based leave
  • Inappropriately being denied a reasonable accommodation when requested

These are just some of the actions that may constitute discrimination. If you suspect that your employer has treated your unfairly because of your condition, then you may want to take legal action.

Proving your discrimination case

As you gear up to pursue your claim, you’re going to need to gather evidence. This may include:

  • Questions that were asked of you during a job interview: Seemingly innocent questions can turn out to be catalysts for discrimination. Questions about your marital status, whether you have children, and whether you intend to have children are all red flags that you should be wary of. The same holds true for questions that ask you directly about your pregnancy.
  • The timing of an adverse employment decision: If you’re demoted or fired after getting pregnant or after requesting leave for your pregnancy, then you should start asking whether you’ve been improperly discriminated against.
  • An employer’s response to a reasonable accommodation request: If your employer refuses to grant a request for a reasonable accommodation, then you should seek clarification as to the justification for the denial. If that justification is flimsy or unwarranted, then you may have been subjected to discrimination.
  • Disciplinary action taken for missing work due to pregnancy-related doctor appointments: You have protections under the law when it comes to taking leave for your pregnancy. This includes going to doctor appointments and longer-term leave after the birth of your child. If you’re disciplined for taking too much time off of work, then you should think about reviewing your protections under the law and how they applied to the circumstances at hand.
  • Poor justifications for an adverse employment decision: Again, if your employer’s reasoning behind a demotion, reassignment, or termination is bogus, then you’ll want to gather evidence that contradicts that explanation so that you can present it later if you end up taking legal action.
  • Your employer’s failure to follow standard disciplinary and termination protocols: Most employers use a progressive disciplinary approach, meaning that you’ll be put on notice of any concerns that your employer has with your performance and given an opportunity to correct it before suffering an adverse employment decision. If you’re just suddenly let go against your employer’s standard practices, then that may be a red flag that you’ve been discriminated against.

There may be other evidence out there that you can gather to support your case. Retain all communications with your employer and your supervisor, speak to witnesses, and keep a journal of how you’re treated at work. All of this can help support your claim.

If, as you’re navigating your case, you think that you could benefit from some legal guidance, then we encourage you to seek out legal assistance from an attorney who has a track record of pursuing these types of employment law cases.