Employers need to treat all employees fairly. This is true when deciding who to hire and it’s also true once employees are on the job. When employers mistreat applicants and workers, they often run afoul of the law.
Discrimination on many grounds is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For instance, employers cannot discriminate against people on the basis of race, national origin or color. They can’t discriminate against them when deciding who to hire based on their religion or their gender. It’s even illegal to discriminate against workers who are over 39 years old.
It’s important for female employees to note that pregnancy discrimination, although common, is also prohibited. What does this mean for their rights as an employee?
When employers cannot discriminate
It’s one thing to say that employers can’t use pregnancy as the basis for discrimination, but it’s more helpful to look at specific actions that an employer cannot take. They are not allowed to discriminate or treat an employee differently – such as paying them less money, giving them fewer raises or refusing to hire them from the onset – for any of these reasons:
- The employee is currently pregnant.
- The employee may become pregnant in the future.
- The employee has gone through a past pregnancy.
- The employee is breastfeeding or has other medical conditions that can be connected to both childbirth and pregnancy.
- The employee is using birth control in order to not get pregnant.
- The employee has decided to have or to not have an abortion.
Essentially, employers just need to ignore reproductive health. They cannot base their decisions on pregnancy and health choices.
Why would an employer do so?
This type of discrimination is actually fairly common, especially for young women. Some employers will fire them as soon as they become pregnant, while others may be hesitant to hire any women in their 20s or early 30s simply because they are afraid that they might become pregnant in the future.
Such actions are illegal discrimination, and it’s crucial for employees to understand all of the legal steps they can take if this happens to them. Regardless of their pregnancy status, all employees deserve fair treatment. When unlawful mistreatment occurs, it’s important to seek legal guidance accordingly.