Being pregnant in the workplace is not always easy. While pregnancy is a very natural condition, it can have many side effects that lead to some issues for the mom-to-be. Some women, for example, may suffer from serious morning sickness that requires hospitalization. Many women have less serious but just as important effects during pregnancy, such as frequent urination. Also, some women may find it more difficult to do their job, especially if they work in a very physical industry or around hazardous materials.
In any case, pregnancy can impact a woman’s ability to work. This can cause some issues in the workplace, and it could even put her job at risk. This is why specific laws protect pregnant women from discrimination.
According to the AAUW, employers cannot treat a woman differently because she is pregnant. This includes firing her, not hiring her specifically because she is pregnant, demoting her, passing her over for a promotion and letting her pregnancy impact any employment decisions.
The pregnancy discrimination laws essentially provide for equal treatment. For example, if an employer allows an employee with a broken leg to sit at his or her work station but does not allow a pregnant employee to sit when she needs to do so for health reasons, this is discrimination. What an employer does for one employee must be an equal option for all workers.
Equal treatment expands to every area of employment. For example, it covers whether an employer will hold the employee’s job while she is on maternity leave. If the employer would hold a job for another employee who takes leave, then it would have to do so for the pregnant employee. In general, anything an employer would do or has done for another employee, it must do for pregnant workers to maintain fairness and avoid discrimination lawsuits and complaints.