Your pregnancy should be a happy time in your life. As you prepare to welcome your child into the world, taking care of yourself and reducing stress is extremely important.
If you are working, your employer may start treating you differently after learning you are pregnant. You may wonder if it is all in your head, but the truth is that pregnancy discrimination is a very real thing.
What is pregnancy discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination means treating a woman negatively because she is pregnant. It may also occur in situations involving a woman returning to work after giving birth, or a woman having pregnancy-related medical issues.
Pregnancy discrimination is illegal under federal law through the Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, as well as under North Carolina state law. There are many different adverse actions that constitute pregnancy discrimination, including:
- Reducing health benefits
- Refusing to provide accommodations related to your pregnancy
Your employer has a legal duty to reasonably accommodate your pregnancy, such as giving you a chair to sit on if you normally stand all day. Even slight changes, such as removing fringe benefits like travel reimbursement or shortening your hour-long lunch period, may be signs that you are a victim of pregnancy discrimination.
Establishing pregnancy discrimination
Proving pregnancy discrimination is challenging. You must show that your employer’s adverse action toward you was because of your pregnancy, childbirth or a medical condition involving your pregnancy.
For example, if you work in a customer service role and your employer fires you when you are pregnant, but your employer provides evidence that there were several customer complaints about you, they may have a valid argument that your firing was not due to your pregnancy.
Although you may be unsure if you are experiencing pregnancy discrimination, it is best to keep a detailed log of every negative action your employer takes against you. Keep any documentation involving the incidents. An experienced employment attorney can review the documents, listen to your story and advise you on any potential legal options.