It's illegal in the U.S. to discriminate against an expectant mother. Pregnancy discrimination can come in different forms: denying a job-hunting pregnant woman a position of employment simply because she's expecting a child, or overlooking a pregnant woman for promotions, raises or other work opportunities. In the extreme, pregnancy discrimination can take the form of an employer outright firing a pregnant woman because of her condition, rather than work performance.
However, knowing that pregnancy discrimination has occurred is different from being able to prove it. The first step is to understand what is pregnancy discrimination. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers from treating a woman unfavorably in any way because of pregnancy, childbirth or any related medical condition, whether she's already an employee or applying for a job. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission specifies that pregnancy discrimination might relate to any aspect of work, including hiring, firing, pay, promotions, job assignments, benefits and training. In tough economic times, the EEOC has found that pregnancy discrimination claims rose.
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, you may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a medical condition, such as pregnancy or childbirth, without worrying about losing your job. However, FMLA doesn't cover small employers, so check with your employee manual when in doubt.
If you've seen pregnancy discrimination at work, or experienced it yourself, please share your story.