Scenarios: Maternity


I was treated differently because I was pregnant.

    Did you go out on maternity leave, only to be demoted when you returned to work or told that there was no longer a position available for you?
    Were you denied leave for your pregnancy, even though employees who are temporarily disabled receive paid or unpaid leave?
    Is your employer refusing to let you work while pregnant, even though you are still able to perform the job?
    After you announced that you were pregnant, did you start receiving fewer work assignments or being treated negatively?
    Were you terminated after you told your boss that you were pregnant and/or requested maternity leave?
    Did the interviewer ask about your marital status or whether you have children and/or were pregnant?


If any or all of the above apply to you, you may have faced pregnancy discrimination. If so, this is discrimination, which is costing you money. As a result of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, pregnancy discrimination is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. It is a discriminatory practice for an employer or union to discriminate against women on the basis of their pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This means treating pregnant women "the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs, as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to handle work."


Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1604.10 further explains what employer or unions may not do. There can be no employment policy or practice that excludes women from applying or being hired on the basis of their pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Moreover, "written or unwritten employment policies and practices involving matters such as the commencement and duration of leave, the availability of extensions, the accrual of seniority and other benefits and privileges, reinstatement, and payment under any health or disability insurance or sick leave plan, formal or informal, shall be applied to disability due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions on the same terms and conditions as they are applied to other disabilities."


Women who are employed by a private employer who has 50 or more employees may also gain protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). To be an "eligible employee," you must have been employed with your employer for the past 12 months and performed at least 1,250 hours of service during the past 12-month period. An eligible employee may receive up to 12 weeks of leave during a 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:


(1) In order to care for the birth of a son or daughter of the employee.

(2) The placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care.

(3) In order to care for the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent of the employee who has a serious health condition.

(4) A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform one or more essential functions of the job.


While on FMLA leave, an employer must sustain the employee's existing level of coverage under a group health plan and reinstate the employee after the leave.


If you have experienced pregnancy discrimination, find out How To Get Even.


If talking with the employer about the discrimination is unsuccessful, you can file a complaint with your state commission against discrimination and/or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Visit the federal law and state law sections of our site to learn more about your rights. Remember, there are strict time deadline for filing, so do not wait too long if that is what you decide to do.