Interesting Facts

7 Things to Know About Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination can manifest in the workplace if a pregnant employee is treated differently than other employees simply because they are pregnant. According to the National Partnership Organization, 70% of pregnant women were employed out of 2.8 million pregnant women each year. And 1 in 5 mothers, or about 20%, say they have experienced pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

San Diego pregnancy discrimination lawyer Frank Clowney III has compiled a comprehensive list of individuals who may be eligible to file a claim for pregnancy discrimination. This includes employees, job candidates, temporary workers, and interns. In this particular type of claim, the evidence is not often straightforward, and in numerous instances, individuals must persuade the court of discrimination by presenting circumstantial evidence.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst states that the majority of cases resulted in no benefits for the employee, which is why it is so important to work with an employment attorney for a greater chance of success.

Learn these 7 things about pregnancy discrimination to protect your rights, how it may affect your career trajectory, and how to recognize and address discriminatory practices.

Legal Protections for Pregnant Employees

As a pregnant employee, you have legal rights that protect you from discrimination at work. These protections are there to make sure you won’t be treated unfairly due to your pregnancy status. According to a discrimination attorney, Jeffrey D. Fulton, under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), it’s illegal for employers to discriminate against you based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This means you can’t be passed over for promotions, demoted, or terminated because you’re pregnant.

Also, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical reasons, including pregnancy and childbirth. This lets you take time off for prenatal care, delivery, and recovery without risking your job security. Your employer is also required to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions like modified work duties or schedules, as long as it doesn’t create undue hardship for the company.

Signs of Pregnancy Discrimination

In the workplace, pregnancy discrimination can come in the form of subtle actions or overt behaviors that disadvantage pregnant employees. One sign to watch for is being treated differently after announcing your pregnancy, such as suddenly being excluded from important meetings or projects.

Another red flag is receiving negative performance reviews or being passed over for promotions once your pregnancy becomes known. Employers may also make comments about your commitment or ability to perform your job while pregnant, suggesting they doubt your capabilities.

Being denied reasonable accommodations, like a modified work schedule or time off for medical appointments related to your pregnancy, could indicate discrimination. If you notice a pattern of being treated unfairly compared to your non-pregnant colleagues, document these instances and consider seeking guidance from HR or a legal professional to help you address the discrimination better.

Impact on Career Advancement

When employers unfairly treat pregnant employees, they’ll miss promotions, get fewer opportunities for skill development, and be excluded from important projects. This type of discrimination can stall career progression, which may hurt your long-term professional growth and earning potential.


Being passed over for promotions or not being considered for challenging assignments due to pregnancy discrimination can slow down your career progression. It can create a sense of being undervalued and overlooked, which can affect your confidence and motivation at work. Also, if you aren’t given the chance to improve your skills or take on new responsibilities because of discrimination, it can limit your ability to compete for higher-level positions in the future.

To combat the negative impact of pregnancy discrimination on your career advancement, you must know your rights and seek support from HR or legal resources if you believe you’re being unfairly treated. Addressing discrimination early on can help you protect your career progression and receive equal opportunities for growth at work.

Maternity Leave Rights

As a pregnant employee, you’re entitled to maternity leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the United States. FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth and care of a newborn child. You can also check if your employer offers additional benefits or paid leave options beyond what’s required by law.

Before taking maternity leave, talk to your employer about your plans and explore the available options. Review your company’s maternity leave policy and understand the requirements for requesting leave, such as giving advance notice and medical certification if needed. Planning can help you transition smoothly and minimize any disruptions at work.

Consider how you’ll manage your workload before and during your maternity leave as well. Talk to your supervisor or HR department to delegate tasks, set up an out-of-office email message, and create a plan for your return to work. Preparing accordingly for this period will make you feel more relaxed.

Reporting Discrimination in the Workplace

If you encounter discrimination at work, report it to your HR department or a designated authority for proper investigation and resolution. Deal with any instances of discrimination as soon as possible to protect your rights and make sure the working environment is fair. When reporting discrimination, give specific details, dates, and any evidence you may have to back up your claim. Be prepared to talk about how the discrimination has affected you and your work performance.

When reporting discrimination, follow your company’s procedures for lodging complaints. This may involve submitting a written report, meeting with HR representatives, or having mediation sessions. Your employer should take your complaint seriously and look into the matter thoroughly.

Employer Obligations and Responsibilities

Employers have specific responsibilities and obligations regarding pregnancy discrimination. Employers should make sure to give equal opportunities to pregnant employees and protect them from discrimination based on their pregnancy status. This includes accommodating reasonable adjustments in the workplace, such as flexible work schedules, ergonomic changes, or temporary modifications to duties, to help pregnant employees perform their job duties comfortably and safely.

Employers must also make sure that pregnant employees aren’t subjected to harassment or negative treatment due to their pregnancy. Keep the work environment free from discrimination, where pregnant employees feel valued, respected, and supported throughout their pregnancy journey. Employers are also responsible for educating their staff on anti-discrimination policies and training them to prevent pregnancy discrimination at work.

Resources for Seeking Help

When faced with pregnancy discrimination at work, knowing where to get help can be important for protecting your rights and well-being. If you believe you’re experiencing discrimination due to pregnancy, start by contacting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).


The EEOC enforces federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy, and they can guide you on your next steps. Also, consider contacting organizations such as A Better Balance or the National Women’s Law Center, which offers resources and support for people experiencing pregnancy discrimination.

It’s also helpful to ask a lawyer who specializes in employment law for help. An attorney can assess your situation, explain your rights, and help you handle the legal process. Keep detailed records of any discriminatory actions, including dates, witnesses, and relevant communications, to support your case.


If you believe you’ve been discriminated against due to your pregnancy status, you can fight for your rights at work. Learn about your legal protections, recognize signs of pregnancy discrimination, and don’t be afraid to speak up if you experience unfair treatment.

Your career advancement and well-being are important, so make sure to know how maternity leave rights work and report any discrimination you encounter. Always keep in mind you have resources and support available to help you address these issues.

Brantley Jackson, dad and writer at 'Not in the Kitchen Anymore' is well-known in the parenting world. He writes about his experiences of raising children and provides advice to other fathers. His articles are widely praised for being real and relatable. As well as being an author, he is a full-time dad and loves spending time with his family. His devotion to his kids and love of writing drives him to motivate others.