Pregnancy and workplace discrimination: What are your options?

Whether it was planned for months or sudden and unexpected, a pregnancy can bring a lot of complications to your life. Frequent doctors' appointments and limited physical mobility are just a couple of the possible changes that pregnancy can bring to women's lives. Unfortunately, for some women working in Louisiana, pregnancy can also bring with it a large dose of workplace discrimination that can utterly change the course of their careers.

Does pregnancy discrimination still happen?

Pregnancy discrimination has been an issue since women entered the mainstream workforce en masse. While there are federal regulations, such as the Family Medical Leave Act, Equal Opportunity Employment laws and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act that protect the rights of pregnant workers, far too many companies and bosses will violate these laws, taking advantage of women when they are at their most vulnerable.

Laws mandate that women are supposed to receive leave from work, both during the pregnancy itself if ordered by a doctor and for several weeks following the birth of their babies. Upon their return to work, women are supposed to return to the same level position and pay, with reasonable accommodations for breastfeeding, pumping or other post-pregnancy medical needs. If you are experiencing workplace discrimination because of a pregnancy, working with a skilled employment law attorney is one way to seek justice.

How do employers get away with pregnancy discrimination?

Some employers sidestep these requirements by inappropriately classifying their employees as contractors. This move not only saves employers money in terms of their tax contributions, but also eliminates many of their employees' protections under the law. A pregnant worker who has been classified as a contractor may be terminated for her pregnancy, denied medical leave and otherwise punished with seemingly little recourse. An experienced workplace discrimination attorney, however, can argue in court that an employer was abusing or even violating contractor laws for their own financial gain. They can help workers recover lost income due to that violation.

Don't accept it - fight back

Even in companies with more traditional employment arrangements, bosses can, and sometimes do, violate the laws that protect pregnant and postpartum employees. They may demote a new mother when she returns to work, refuse to make reasonable accommodations for medical needs such as pumping or breastfeeding or may even take actions to terminate a pregnant employee as soon as her pregnancy is revealed. Other companies will simply make returning to work as miserable as possible in the hopes that they can force the new mother out of the workforce.

Without the help of an attorney who has a record of fighting workplace discrimination, it can be hard to prove that the sudden termination was related to pregnancy. A good attorney, however, will scour your records and other information to help make the case that you were wrongfully terminated for pregnancy.

If you have been terminated, demoted or received a pay cut or poor shifts due to pregnancy or the recent birth of a child, you can consult with an employment attorney. After all, not only your future, but the future of your child, may be impacted by your employer's behavior.