Individual experiences at work as employees are quite distinctive. Sometimes, it feels like you're the only one that has ever experienced such. Yes, it's always unique. But all employment laws account for the most extreme conditions, including all those that many of us are yet to imagine, while also considering the very minimal scenarios. The important thing is to follow the right procedures for a deserving justice when we perceive discrimination.
It is a fact that some employers are afraid of dealing with pregnant women, despite how family-friendly workplaces have become in recent years. They tend to believe that pregnant women are no longer as hard-working as they used to be. Hence, discrimination in varied forms may begin to surface subtly. In a few cases, aggressive! Pregnancy discrimination may surface in the form of promotion denial, assigning of jobs that depict underperformance - mostly undesirable functions, training denial, demotion, etc.
As a pregnant employee feeling you have been discriminated, there are procedures to gain justice easily. But let's first look at your rights and protection under the U.S. federal law referred to as Pregnancy Discrimination Act before outlining the necessary procedures. This should help to identify the exact conduct that has been violated by your employer (or potential employer) and also clarifies your feeling of being discriminated.
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is against discrimination in all areas of employment such as promotion, hiring, pay, firing, and all employment benefits. Corporate policies that impede women from working because they are pregnant or fertile are also forbidden by PDA.
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) only applies to workplaces with at least 15 employees. Consider visiting the office of the Department of Labor Women's Bureau in your locality to know if there's an agency in your state that can assist you if your office is having less than 15 employees. However, many state laws cover for employees working in companies with as little as 5 workers.
- Your boss cannot fire you for filing a complaint against him/her, provided you believe that the employer has violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
- Work leaves received due to maternity or pregnancy is treated exactly as other employees on leave due to disability or sickness, this includes the duration at which a position would be held open.
- Your promotion cannot be skipped because of your pregnancy.
- As long as you're able to discharge the duties of a potential position, your employer cannot decide not to hire you because you are pregnant. Employers do not have the right to ask if you are pregnant or intend to be pregnant and you are not entitled to inform the employer that you are pregnant.
- Different offices may treat pregnant employees that are not married differently. Some religious organizations with authorization from courts may discriminate employees who violate the institutions' code of conduct, including premarital sex. Although these employers are required to show that men engaged in premarital sex are treated the same way and not different from the women. However, benefits related to pregnancy are not limited to employees that are married in most organizations.
What to do if you still believe you are being discriminated
Having carefully reviewed your rights covered by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, if you believe you're being treated wrongly or discriminated, the first thing to do is to talk with a very close colleague you really trust. This colleague should have a good knowledge of discrimination act as covered by your corporate policy. Alternatively, someone working in your HR department would be ideal or better still your union representative, office manager or supervisor. Sometimes, simple conversations would resolve serious problems; offer a chance for internal resolution.
In the event that internal management could not resolve the issue to your satisfaction, consider reading through your employee handbook to help your precision on the violations. A lot of companies already have a procedure outlined for filing a discrimination complaint. Sometimes, the employees are referred to the human resources to get that done.
For your legal rights to remain active, consider filing for the charge as soon as possible, mostly valid within 180 days of the action. You may want to verify the validity period from your state.
N/B: Even if you are no longer an employee of the company, your filing will be fully accepted. Secondly, you do not need to hire a lawyer to defend your claims.
Steps to file a pregnancy discrimination suit
- Write down the event as soon as possible and keep a copy somewhere safe, preferably at home. Your information on what happened should include date, time, the place it happened, what was said (the conversation), and witness (if any). Consider keeping this information even if you have not decided to take a legal action or file a complaint yet.
- Discuss it with your union representative (if available). Through the union rules, you can file a grievance. You should call a civilian or women's rights group if you do not have a union.
- Discuss with your employer about how you feel.
- Do not withdraw from doing a good job or updating your records of work. Keep copies of your job evaluation at work, including memos and letters that confirm you're discharging your duties well. However, your boss may begin to devalue your performance to defend his/her discrimination.
- Get support from family and friends to help your emotion. Fighting back discrimination is not an easy process, including the challenge of dealing with it alone.
For further information on the steps in filing a pregnancy discrimination against your employer, please visit the EEOC's website. Pregnancy discrimination is one of the workplace challenges that may be difficult to identify easily. And almost every victim requires assistance to figure out how it should be handled on a note that you're so sure of being discriminated.
Also, consider sourcing for information at your workplace or any rights and law centre within your state or locality.