Pregnant employees have rights in the workplace. Unfortunately, some employers and co-workers treat pregnant employees differently. In these cases, workers may feel harassed and discriminated against just because they are pregnant.
A significant number of women suffer form some form of postpartum depression or anxiety after they give birth. As the body’s hormone levels surge and consequently strive to adjust to those surges, women can suffer from mood swings, uncharacteristic thought patterns and feeling truly blue. In fact, milder forms of postpartum depression are often referred to as “The Baby Blues.” Most women can successfully weather this milder form of depression for the few weeks that it tends to stick around.
We write frequently about the ways in which relatively subtle forms of illegal discrimination continue to permeate the American workplace. In addition to race discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination and sexual harassment, a staggering number of American workers continue to experience the negative effects of pregnancy discrimination. In response to this disturbing trend, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released guidance on this issue that is arguably long-overdue.
Federal law protects female workers from being wrongfully terminated, demoted or given lower pay because they are pregnant. These forms of pregnancy discrimination are fairly obvious and tend to be relatively easy to prove under a number of circumstances. However, pregnancy discrimination can also be subtle and harder to detect if workers are not aware of their rights.