Pregnant women are often subject to discrimination in the workplace. It may take many forms – restriction, exclusion, distinction or preference based on pregnancy. It can also happen at any aspect of employment – from hiring to firing, payment, promotions, job assignments, training, and benefits.
According to the website of Cary Kane, LLP, discrimination at work based on pregnancy is prohibited by law as what is clearly stated in the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). PDA indicates that pregnant women shall be treated in the same way as other employees with similar ability (and inability) to perform tasks.
Harassment against pregnant women at work can be carried out in many different forms. It can be direct, indirect, or systemic:
Direct discrimination happens when an employer, contractor, or a fellow employee makes an overt and direct remark against a pregnant woman, or deliberately treats a woman differently because she is pregnant or has been pregnant before. This makes the working environment hostile for the pregnant woman involved, making her feel harassed. For instance, operations managers who do not allow breastfeeding mothers to breastfeed their child inside the company premises could be at fault for discrimination.
Indirect discrimination based on pregnancy occurs when there is a practice or rule applied to everyone else but has much worse effect to pregnant women than to others. However, there could be no indirect discrimination if the rules or policies in question are reasonable enough to reach business goals, and that providing accommodation for the pregnant woman would practically be impossible or irrational.
When discrimination is intricately rooted into a company’s set of policies, culture, and practices, the problem could be systemic. Systemic discrimination occurs as either direct or indirect, and creates a profoundly limiting environment for pregnant women. A company whose rule on promotion requires employees not to file leaves of more than 60 days in order to be eligible could be an example of systemic discrimination.Read More