Is it possible that in the 21st century a pregnant woman would have a hard time getting hired? You can bet every dollar you have, that this is a pervasive attitude in some organizations. Is it a bad business decision to refuse to hire pregnant women? Of course it is. The Canadian Human Rights Act reads, in part,
‘Women in the workplace are valued employees entitled to equality, dignity, respect and accommodation of their needs when they are attempting to become pregnant, while they are pregnant, and as they return to work following a pregnancy-related absence’.
Priyansha Mistry article for HR Digest titled, ‘What can you do when you face pregnancy discrimination? is a useful guide, for pregnant women and has some useful tips if you feel you are or have been discriminated against, because you told the boss, you plan on starting a family.
“As a pregnant employee feeling you have been discriminated, there are procedures to gain justice easily. But let’s first look at your rights and protection under the U.S. federal law referred to as Pregnancy Discrimination Act before outlining the necessary procedures. This should help to identify the exact conduct that has been violated by your employer (or potential employer) and also clarifies your feeling of being discriminated.
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is against discrimination in all areas of employment such as promotion, hiring, pay, firing, and all employment benefits. Corporate policies that impede women from working because they are pregnant or fertile are also forbidden by PDA.
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) only applies to workplaces with at least 15 employees. Consider visiting the office of the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau in your locality to know if there’s an agency in your state that can assist you if your office is having less than 15 employees. However, many state laws cover for employees working in companies with as little as 5 workers.
- Your boss cannot fire you for filing a complaint against him/her, provided you believe that the employer has violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
- Work leaves received due to maternity or pregnancy is treated exactly as other employees on leave due to disability or sickness, this includes the duration at which a position would be held open.
- Your promotion cannot be skipped because of your pregnancy.
- As long as you’re able to discharge the duties of a potential position, your employer cannot decide not to hire you because you are pregnant. Employers do not have the right to ask if you are pregnant or intend to be pregnant and you are not entitled to inform the employer that you are pregnant.
- Different offices may treat pregnant employees that are not married differently. Some religious organizations with authorization from courts may discriminate employees who violate the institutions’ code of conduct, including premarital sex. Although these employers are required to show that men engaged in premarital sex are treated the same way and not different from the women. However, benefits related to pregnancy are not limited to employees that are married in most organizations.
You have a variety options at your disposal if you encounter pregnancy discrimination. However, let’s face it, not all companies embrace a 50’s medieval mentality when it comes to dealing with pregnant women and, the ones who do likely have a high turnover rate anyway, because employees can’t stand to work for them in the first place.
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