Thanks to years of pioneering efforts by brave women and legal changes at the state and federal levels, it is now possible for female workers to accomplish more than ever before. Employers can no longer consider gender as a factor when determining whom they hire. The same is also true for consideration relating to promotions, wage increases, and layoffs or terminations.
Unfortunately, many companies still subtly discriminate against women, especially those who are or eventually will become pregnant. Federal law extends protections to pregnant women in the workplace.
Employers should not engage in any kind of discrimination toward pregnant workers. Instead, they should accommodate the basic needs that come with pregnancy. Failing to do so is an altogether too common form of gender discrimination.
Pregnant workers have the rights to basic accommodations
Pregnancy involves many changes to a woman's body. After all, many of the resources that she takes in will wind up directed toward the formation of a new human. As a result, she may need to eat more, rest more and limit her intense physical labor.
While some women are capable of maintaining strenuous activities throughout pregnancy, others require bed rest for part of their second or all of their third trimester. Employers should be reasonable and accommodating when it comes to work restrictions related to pregnancy.
Whether a woman needs to use the bathroom more frequently, take on new tasks that don't involve heavy lifting or work remotely during bed rest, employers should accommodate those needs unless doing so creates an undue hardship. Most companies can make these basic accommodations, but they may choose to not do so in the hope of forcing an expectant worker to leave her job.
When your employer won't work with you, you might have to fight for yourself
If your employer is willing to mistreat you or discriminate against you because of your pregnancy, you need to stand up against that behavior. Not only could it affect the rest of your career by forcing you out of a position or damaging your potential for future career growth, but it could also impact many other women at the same place of employment.
Women should not have to give up their career aspirations simply because they choose to become mothers. Too many employers mistreat or discriminate against pregnant women because they think they can get away with it. If your employer refuses to accommodate medical needs during pregnancy or otherwise engages in abusive, discriminatory behavior, document everything.
Record when you requested accommodations from your manager or human resources. Also keep a record of anything derogatory or inappropriate anyone says to you. That documentation can help you in the future if you have to work with an attorney because of the unfair treatment from your employer.