Pregnancy Discrimination: Be Aware And Be Prepared
You’ve found out that you are expecting, and along with the joy and anticipation that comes along with this news you are also wondering how you are going to break it to your boss. While you may be tickled pink at the arrival of a baby, your boss may be less enthusiastic about the news. Unfortunately, some bosses regard pregnancy as a liability and they do not want expecting mothers and new mothers to be on their staff. In fact, some women are shocked to find that they were suddenly let go from a position they had for years because they became pregnant.
If you feel that you were unjustly fired from a job due to your pregnancy, or your boss told you they just couldn’t handle the liability or maternity leave, you need to know about your legal rights as an expecting mom. Even though you may have the nicest boss in the world, it is still important to be prepared incase you are suddenly faced with a case of pregnancy discrimination. In the year 2006 alone, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 4,901 pregnancy discrimination charges.
Talk With Your Boss Immediately
As soon as you have confirmed your pregnancy it is important to have a frank discussion with your boss at once. It is understandable if you do not want the rest of your office to know about the pregnancy right away, but you should still talk with your boss. Let your boss know when your due date is, determine how many weeks of maternity leave you can expect, and how many sick days you are allowed.
At this first meeting with your boss, be honest with your boss if you are concerned about keeping your job. Your boss may either reassure your position, or confirm your fears; either way you will honestly know how your boss feels so that you can take the steps you need to in order to ensure that you have employment and security for you and your baby.
Know Your Rights
Pregnancy discrimination is defined as discrimination that occurs when expecting mothers are fired from a job, or face discrimination because of their pregnancy or decision to become pregnant. Example of pregnancy discrimination include: being dismissed from a position once the employer is aware of the pregnancy, being dismissed upon returning after maternity leave, having one’s pay deducted because of the pregnancy, or not being hired for a position because of a pregnancy.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1978. According to this piece of legislature, employers must provide insurance, paid leave, and support to expecting mothers that they are able to give to other employees who are on medical leave or disability. This means that pregnant employees are to be given the same treatment as any other employer who is dealing with a temporary disability.
For example, if an employer is able to offer an injured employee light work, than the employer should also be able to offer light work to expectant mothers in their latter trimesters. According to this act, expectant mothers must be able to work as long as they can perform their job duties, and an employer cannot stop an employee from returning to work after taking maternity leave. Single parents need to be aware that pregnancy benefits cannot only be offered to married employees; the same benefits need to be provided to single parents as well.
Some states and programs have expanded on the original Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and it is vital that you are aware of your legal rights in your State before you speak with your boss about your pregnancy.
What To Do If You Are Facing Pregnancy Discrimination
If you think that your employer is discriminating against you because of your pregnancy, you will need to contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC). They can be contacted either through their website, mail, fax, or their toll free number at 1-800-669-400. Gather all the information that you can, and try to remember specific dates of incidences, or things that your employer said, before you talk with the EEOC. You should also let your boss know in a polite but firm tone that you are aware of your rights.