As 2017 continues to move forward, the progress for women’s rights keeps getting pushed back by decades. Not only does the GOP plan to defund Planned Parenthood, but now a Republican state legislator in Oklahoma is trying to make it a legal requirement that a pregnant women get written permission from her sexual partner if she wants to have an abortion — because, according to the legislator, a woman’s body is only a “host.” It's during times like this that everyone should know what to do if they experience pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, because as sad as it is, this type of thing is slowly becoming the norm.
The same unfair and backwards thinking displayed in Oklahoma is a very real threat to the years of progress made for equal rights and opportunities. With President Trump in charge and the White House trying to reduce access to affordable women’s health care and the right to choose, topics like pregnancy discrimination seem to fall straight out of the dark ages to haunt everyone, just like the rest of these draconian policies helmed by the Republican government.
If you’re planning a pregnancy, will be pregnant one day in the future, or are already expecting, Trump’s views on women who work while they are pregnant are already very unsettling. In an October 2004 interview with NBC's Dateline, Trump said pregnancy is "a wonderful thing for the woman, it's a wonderful thing for the husband, it's certainly an inconvenience for a business. And whether people want to say that or not, the fact is it is an inconvenience for a person that is running a business."
Fortunately, it usually takes a while to change things completely and right now there are laws in place that protect expectant moms from being treated “unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth,” under a federal law called the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).
Unfortunately, pregnant women and women with pregnancy-related medical conditions continue to face significant discrimination in the workplace, regardless. Although there are laws in place to buffer some of these injustices, pregnancy discrimination is still a reality for many women, according to the American Association of University Women.
Since this is sadly still common, here’s what to do if you experience pregnancy discrimination at work:
Know Your Rights
Under the PDA and EEOC, a pregnancy must be treated like any other employee who has a disability or medical condition because pregnancy must be treated as a temporary medical disability. Additionally, you can’t be fired or refused a position because you’re pregnant or may become pregnant one day. It’s also illegal for your pregnancy to affect your pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, or benefits. Essentially, as long as you are able to do your job well, your pregnancy should be irrelevant.
Take Notes & Record Everything
If you think you are being discriminated because of your pregnancy, make sure to take detailed notes about the situation. Write down the date, time, and place of the incident or conversation as soon as you can so your memories are fresh and the details are as accurate as possible
Bring It To HR
If you see that your pregnancy is the reason you're being treated unfairly, bring it to your human resources department or your union representative. If bringing this up with your superiors first doesn't work or you're unhappy with the outcome, you can utilize a medium who should know your company’s policies and the laws it must abide by.
File A Complaint
If discussion internally don't work, you may want to file a formal discrimination complaint against your employer by contacting the nearest U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s office. You can search by your zip code or call 1-800-669-4000.
The current ruling Republican administration continues to give women reasons to distrust them when it comes to protecting their rights. Whether it's access to contraception, abortions, or a treat to equal treatment in the workplace, women will need to be prepared to face the challenges that come as a result.