Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pregnancy Discrimination

When I worked under a long-term contract for a large corporation, a coworker-friend, also under contract, became pregnant, and eventually asked to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave post-baby under the Family Medical Leave Act.

Our employer said, basically: No, but why don't we lay you off and then rehire you when you're ready? You don't really need health insurance, do you? You have a husband, after all.

My friend said: No, that's illegal.

And it went back and forth, and finally when she retained an attorney, the corporation backed down and let her take her leave. Her unpaid leave. Keep in mind that this was a corporation that was lauded as being a great corporation for people with families.

So, it's not a great surprise to hear that reported pregnancy discrimination is on the rise. I think it's been underreported for a long time. And it's illegal. Here's a summary of what you cannot do as an employer:

You cannot refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant.
You cannot fire her because she is pregnant.
You cannot demote her or dock her pay because she is pregnant.
Even if you ask a woman about her child-rearing plans, and don’t do the
same of your male job applicants or employees, that’s a no-no.

Resources: Are you a victim of pregnancy discrimination? and Employment Law Guide: Family and Medical Leave

Via Feministing