There are a number of local, state and federal laws that protect employees from their employers’ prejudices. It is against the law, for example, for an employer to refused to hire someone because of his or her national background. It is also against the law to not make reasonable accommodations for someone because of a religious belief, like allowing Muslim women to wear a hijab as part of their work uniforms. And, while some people may not realize it, it is against the law to discriminate against pregnant women.
While it may be illegal, it doesn’t mean that pregnancy discrimination is not happening in New York and across the country. In fact, a pair of researchers have found that many pregnant women are held to very different standards from their nonpregnant colleagues.
If a pregnant woman is going to be fired because it takes her longer to get into the office in the morning or because she has to go to the doctor during the work day, then the employer had better be holding all of its employees to the same standard. While an employer may never mention a woman’s pregnancy when it chooses to terminate an employee, if the employee can show that other nonpregnant employees are not disciplined for the same actions, she and her employment law attorney may be able to prove workplace discrimination.
This is not to say that every time a pregnant woman is fired is because of discrimination. What it is clear, however, is that when the pregnant employee is being held to a different standard, it is.
Source: Consumer Affairs, “Study: pregnant employees still subject to discrimination,” Mark Huffman, Feb. 26, 2014