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Recognizing pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

Discrimination coming from a superior can make anyone feel unworthy, insulted and worried about his or her job. When the discrimination pertains to pregnancy or a maternity-related issue, the feelings you experience can be even more complex and devastating. Are you somehow less important because you are expecting a child? Does the time you miss due to doctors’ appointments or health issues make your job less relevant? What might happen to your position after you take maternity leave? These are questions that cross the mind of many expectant mothers in California after they experience discrimination related to their pregnancies.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against pregnant employees or applicants based on their pregnancies or related issues. Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, but it might be difficult to determine if your employer discriminated against you. The following are some examples of what pregnancy discrimination might look like:

  • A potential employer did not hire you for the sole reason that you are pregnant.
  • You are experiencing complications such as placenta previa and can still work, but you need lighter duties. Instead of adjusting your workload or temporarily reassigning your tasks to someone else, your employer makes frequent comments about how you are inconveniencing the team or you are let go.
  • As your pregnancy progresses and you need to see your doctor more frequently, your employer reprimands you for working fewer hours than your usual schedule.
  • You prepare to return to work after your maternity leave is over and find that your employer terminated you.

You may find it discouraging to try to prove your experience was indeed pregnancy-related discrimination since your employer could make any excuse as to why he or she did not accommodate your needs or fired you. However, you have the right to defend yourself if you believe the poor treatment you received at work was due to your pregnancy.

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