When you become pregnant, your employer, supervisors and colleagues cannot treat you differently. Under the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you have protections against unfavorable treatment due to pregnancy or medical conditions related to childbirth.
Understanding your rights can help you identify pregnancy discrimination in the office.
What is harassment based on pregnancy?
Harassment at work is never okay. Your colleagues, supervisors and others within the company cannot harass you based on pregnancy. For example, no person can make degrading remarks based on your pregnancy or treat you differently because of it. Harassment becomes illegal when it creates a hostile work environment. The harasser does not have to be a supervisor or employer, it can be another employee or a client.
What constitutes discrimination based on pregnancy?
If you work for a company that allows employees to take leave or leave without pay due to temporary disabilities, the employer must let you take the same leave. Your pregnancy-related conditions count the same as any other health condition.
In many cases, pregnant women require light work. If you cannot perform your job or need alternate assignments or light duty, then your supervisor or employer should provide them for you. If you see other employees receive light duty for illnesses or injuries, but your employer tries to deny you the same treatment, then you may be the victim of discrimination.
You may also have additional rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act. You have the right to time off to care for your child and you can also express milk in a private area of your workplace.