Both state and federal laws protect employees from pregnancy discrimination. In a nutshell, pregnancy discrimination occurs when a pregnant individual is treated unfairly solely because of their condition.
While this may sound straightforward, pregnancy discrimination can take numerous different forms. Outlined below are some of the more common types of pregnancy discrimination.
Firing pregnant workers
Washington is an at-will employment state. This means that the employment relationship can be ended by either party at any time, without explanation. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that employers can fire workers for discriminatory reasons, such as being pregnant. Pregnant workers are entitled to up to a minimum of 12 weeks of family leave per year. An employee cannot be fired for asserting these rights or simply being pregnant.
It’s also important to note that pregnant workers cannot be denied access to opportunities, such as promotions, solely based on their pregnancy.
Abuse and harassment
Sadly, pregnant workers do sometimes find themselves on the receiving end of abuse and harassment. Employees are entitled to work in an environment that is free from abuse, hostility and discrimination — but some managers and co-workers seem to feel that pregnant workers are an inconvenience. Pregnant workers should not be subjected to any form of degrading or hostile treatment in the work environment.
Failing to make reasonable accommodations
Pregnancy is not a disability, but that doesn’t mean that employers should not make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. The workplace should be as safe, accessible and comfortable as possible for all employees. If an employer unreasonably refuses to make minor accommodations without just cause and forces undue hardship upon a pregnant worker, this is a form of discrimination.
These are just some of the most common forms of pregnancy discrimination. There are several others. If you feel that your employment rights have been violated, it may benefit you to seek some legal guidance.