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3 examples of pregnancy discrimination to avoid

As an employer, you may make every effort to treat your employees well and ensure you comply with state and federal laws that protect their rights. However, these are complex areas of law, and not everyone sees the same situation from the same perspective. 

This is true when it comes to pregnancy discrimination. Intentionally or not, employers may make decisions or allow others to make decisions that unfairly affect pregnant workers. These events might seem insignificant, unavoidable or justified, but they can lead to a discrimination lawsuit. Below are a few examples of these types of situations.

Reassigning work

Taking work away from someone because she is pregnant or reassigning her can be discriminatory if she is able to complete the work. It could also be discriminatory to uninvite a pregnant employee to meetings or business trips while she is pregnant without cause.

In other words, employers should not use the fact that an employee is pregnant to take away work opportunities.

Making poor assumptions

People often make assumptions about a woman's capabilities or medical status and then let those assumptions drive their employment decisions. This can be a costly mistake. For instance, deciding not to promote a pregnant employee based on assumptions that pregnant women are out of the office more than other employees can be discriminatory.

Making inappropriate comments

Employers or managers who make unwelcome or offensive comments about a pregnant employee's appearance, family planning decisions or time off for pregnancy-related reasons can face discrimination claims. Understand that inappropriate or insensitive comments about a pregnant employee have no place in the workplace. 

Avoiding these and other discriminatory actions

These examples may be less overt than other types of pregnancy discrimination, like firing a woman for becoming pregnant. However, they are still serious and could be grounds for legal claims. Again, though, it can be difficult to know what to do in particular situation, even if you understand that you cannot (and have no intention to) discriminate against your employees.

Whether you are unsure of what you can or cannot do in specific situations involving a pregnant employee or you are responding to a claim of discrimination, legal guidance can be crucial.

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