Pregnancy discrimination: It may not be as obvious as you expect

Pregnancy can be an incredible time in any woman’s life. For roughly nine months, a woman needs to prioritize her health, safety and emotional well-being in ways she may never have had to do before. Between all these adjustments and considerations, it can be something of a relief for a woman to have a steady job where she knows what to expect.

Unfortunately, too many women in New York City have the rug pulled out from under them when they are discriminated against at work. Employers think they can get away with it (and some of them do) by keeping the mistreatment subtle or disguised as something else.

For instance, a woman might be told her hours are being cut way back because there just isn’t enough work to go around. This might be an outright lie to simply cut back a pregnant worker’s hours (and potentially deny benefits), which can be discriminatory, or it might be true. Even if it is true, if the pregnant woman was unfairly singled out for reduced hours, it could still be discrimination.

Alienating pregnant women before or after they take leave can also be discriminatory. Refusing to update someone on client developments or train her in on new processes because she has taken or will take leave can certainly affect that woman’s job performance. Robbing a person of the tools they need to do their job could be an indication that she is being set up to fail and/or quit.

Employers might also discriminate against pregnant workers by denying them certain accommodations or making them feel badly about needing them. For instance, if a woman is nauseous or tired because of her pregnancy, she may need more breaks and she may have to avoid standing for long periods. If an employer denies these or other reasonable accommodations, or if the woman is mistreated for utilizing them, it may be a sign of discrimination.

Discrimination against pregnant women, whether subtle or overt, is illegal. Thankfully, you have rights if you have been mistreated or wrongfully terminated due to pregnancy. Discussing your legal options with an attorney can help you protect yourself, your family and your livelihood.

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