Combating pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is illegal yet quite common. The Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 and the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act protect pregnant women from unfair treatment and harassment because of their condition. It’s helpful to understand your rights under these laws to identify or handle potential pregnancy discrimination at your workplace.

Pregnancy discrimination and the common example

When a supervisor, human resources representative or other employee treats you differently because of your pregnancy, childbirth or a medical condition related to the aforementioned events, the law considers that pregnancy discrimination. It manifests itself in various ways, often subtle. For example, an employer can deny you a promotion, place you on leave without pay or prevent you from returning to work after childbirth. A fellow employee could also harass you by making derogatory remarks or jokes about your condition. These actions not only cause emotional distress but also have a direct economic impact on pregnant women and their families.

Your rights under the law

The PDA and Title VII provide clear protections against pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. You have the right to:
• Receive equal treatment for all employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, promotion or compensation.
• Request reasonable accommodation from your employer if you need it because of your pregnancy or childbirth.
• Take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if your employer meets certain criteria.
• Be free from any form of harassment or intimidation at your workplace.

How to handle pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

If you are experiencing unfair treatment because of your pregnancy in Wisconsin, you must find a way to prove, without reasonable doubt, that it is actually happening. This will require you to collect evidence, such as emails, texts or documents related to the discrimination. You should also document any meetings and conversations in which the discrimination occurred.

With that evidence, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They will launch an investigation into your case and take potential action against your employer.

Pregnancy should not be a barrier to your career aspirations or hinder your ability to do your job. Remember that discrimination, not just for pregnancy alone, is illegal in Wisconsin, and there are laws and systems put in place to protect you. If you need a trusted discrimination attorney, reach out to the attorneys at Alan C. Olson & Associates.


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