What to do if you face pregnancy discrimination at work

[Today’s guest post is by Chris Perez.]

Working women of childbearing age and the public at large have taken quite an interest in the recent story of Peggy Young, a former UPS employee who alleges that she was discriminated against for being pregnant. This case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court and has inspired strong feelings on both sides.

If you are pregnant and believe that you have been fired, demoted, or otherwise mistreated by your employer because of it, there are several steps you can take to protect your rights.

Don’t settle immediately: Your employer may assure you that “cuts were coming anyway,” to avoid the appearance of discrimination. Your employer may even offer a severance package. And maybe cuts were coming anyway. But you need time to evaluate the situation fully. Don’t simply to take an offered severance package and disappear into the night. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured; tell your employer you need time to weigh the offer. Not jumping all over a severance offer will enable you to be the one in control. More important, it will give you the opportunity to…

Consult a lawyer: Gather any relevant memos, emails, and other paperwork and then get to an attorney who deals in employment issues. It’s important to get a lawyer’s outside perspective; he or she can give a realistic assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and offer valuable advice. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations. If you are unable to afford a lawyer, and the lawyer believes that you have a strong case, you may be able to make a contingent fee arrangement.

Keep your cool: It’s understandable to feel rage toward your former employer if you have experienced discrimination. That can be a good thing; it can motivate you as you navigate the slow, frustrating aspects of the legal process. But be careful about directing your vitriol toward specific people, like a former supervisor or co-worker. You may never know who is just towing the company line and who really believes the things that they are saying. You need to keep your emotions out of the equation and focus on getting the greatest possible recovery from the company.

Pregnancy discrimination is illegal, and women have every right to be both mothers and wage earners. Procreation is a natural part of life, and no mom should have to give up her job simply because she conceived a child.

21 thoughts on “What to do if you face pregnancy discrimination at work”

  1. Women should be discriminated against if being pregnant/being mothers is actually getting in the way of them doing their job as well as the other workers. I have witnessed some pregnant women, especially towards the end of their pregnancy, doing about 1/2 the work as their other female counterparts. These same women, after they have given birth, spend hours on the clock pumping milk each week. All the while those women who choose not to get pregnant (Or can't) end up having to do EXTRA work to make up for the mother. Thus treating the childless as second class citizens who exist for the procreators use. Pregnancy may be natural, but it is not mandatory, which is why we don't believe that killing the offspring is okay. If someone chooses to get pregnant-that choice should not be one which makes someone else suffer.
    Feminism means that a woman may Attempt to achieve all of her desires in life–not that she has a right to any way of life that she wants-even at the expense of others. I may desire to be a single mother of 7 children. Does that mean that I have the right to 3 months paid vacation year after year while the other females have to work the full 12 months for the same yearly pay? Does that mean that I have the right to leave early/arrive late/miss days more frequently than childless women who are getting paid the same? Does that mean I am entitled to many more paid breaks spent milking while other childless women slave away making up for my lack of work? No it does not. I will not become a single mother of seven, or a co-parenting mother of one if it means I am using other people in any way.

  2. Right.

    So if she has sex and has an unintended pregnancy, she is selfish if she chooses abortion.

    If she chooses to work while pregnant, she is selfish because she selfishly chose procreation and being able to feed her child over abortion.

    If abortion is criminalized, which you want, no? Then she is selfish for having sex, getting pregnant, and then having the gall to remain pregnant *against her will* while holding a job. Despicable, really.

    According to you, women should either choose to be stay at home moms if they *ever* dare to have sex, or simply remain abstinent their entire life if they want to hold a job.

    What is your position on pregnant rape victims? Are they also selfish if they choose to hold a job while pregnant?

  3. Right. Because clearly the correct response to some pregnant and nursing women getting unreasonable accommodations is to declare that no pregnant and nursing women may ever have any accommodations whatsoever.

  4. Nevermind that penalizing pregnant women for being pregnant is a great way to drive up the abortion rate – legal or illegal.

  5. I was in a discussion about the commodification of children the other day, and this ties in nicely.

    You're treating children, born and unborn, like a mother's lifestyle choice rather than actual living human beings. Human beings deserve care, especially those who are helpless, and you're advocating an economic system in which protecting the meek means losing your livelihood.

    That's not a society I want any part of.

  6. Sorry, but I don't believe any of that *ever* happens. I know that it doesn't take "hours" to pump milk, and very few people get "12 weeks paid vacation, year after year." If you are salaried, or have an understanding employer, you have a bit more flexibility. But your employer isn't going to keep dead wood around. You still have to produce. I think it's possible you don't know the entire story. Some women, particularly salaried may come in late, and stay later, or come in on their day off to make up time. And I never minded helping out a co-worker who is temporarily physically challenged for any reason. You need to grow a heart.

  7. 3 months paid vacation year

    Really? Your employer offers three months' paid maternity leave? That's more than mine does, and they're consistently rated in the top 10 employers for working mothers.

    Just curious.

  8. Do you dispute her point that government mandated accommodations forces the childless to pick up a pregnant persons work load while getting the same pay?
    So far you haven't, you just pointed out difficulties pregnant women face if they aren't allowed to force others to do more work for equal pay. No one wants them to go through that, but it's not an argument.

    Shifting the responsibility of the work that a pregnant woman can't do to the child free is not treating children like a commodity. It is asking that you not be punished for the decisions of other people. Or should people be happy to pick up someone else work load but get paid the same (for fear of discrimination). Should people that are pained with infertility or people that choose to wait to have sex until they can afford an "accident" without burdening others consider it a privilege to do a pregnant woman's work for her?

  9. Option 1: choose to have piv sex knowing that if protection fails, you and your partner can't afford the pay cut that comes from doing less work. Solution: have piv sex any way and kill the child should you create it.

    Option 2: choose to have piv sex knowing that if protection fails, you and your partner can't afford the pay cut that comes from doing less work. Solution: demand you don't get the pay cut but do get to work less and expect other people to be happy to pick up your work load.

    Option 3: wait to have piv sex until you can afford to have an "accident" without burdening someone else. In the mean time work your way up, get educated, you don't need to become a millionaire before you have piv sex but take into account the possible outcomes the actions you take and how they effect others.

    note: this applies to men too.

  10. Right, so spend your life abstinent until you can afford a child or afford not to work – men and women.

    And heavens forbid, don't ask for welfare, or WIC for the child, or any of that socialist stuff, because then society is just enabling your greedy breeding way

    Yeah, that's realistic. Sex should only be for the affluent.

  11. So then you are saying, argent, that women should simply choose to have as many children as they like without the thought of how their choices could effect other people negatively? I believe that you are treating the childless person as a commodity in expecting them to accommodate those with children in their lives. To what degree should we have to accommodate them? Do we without children exist for the the benefit of you with children? What about those of us who don't have children because we don't have the money, are barren, or don't believe in sending children to daycare all day? Should we be punished? .You would be perfectly able to cater your life towards those who have children without being prepared for it. You could give them your number to call if they ever need a babysitter, you could give them your excess money to provide for the childrens' college. There are millions of children in the world who are not being fed, educated, and receiving the best medical care–do they have a right to all of our excess earnings? For that matter why is it okay for any of us to conceive new children while their are so many needy children out there already? Is that not the very definition of selfishness? Why is the society of creating More children while there are needy ones in the world an okay society?

  12. Yes, we have one "worker" in particular who everyone noticed was just lumbering about during most of her pregnancy and after giving birth took double the breaks that the rest of us were allowed for the benefit of milking. We, without children, and those who had children but one parent was staying home with the child all were pulling our weight, but she was not. And yet we were all getting paid the same. This is not fair. This treats the childless as a forced surrogate parent. Do you believe in forcing someone to be a parent to a child that they had no choice in the creation of? To what extent is this okay? Should I, who can't afford to properly have children, be forced to pick someones child up from school every day? Should Victoria, a barren woman who cannot afford an adoption, be forced to give up her extra money to provide food for children in Africa? To what extent do I need to "grow a heart".?

  13. There would be no laws against accommodating anybody for anything. It should be up to the company, and ultimately the coworkers to decide how much accommodation each person should receive. Each workplace would be different. If I decide that I want to be a single mother and have 5 children–well that could lead to quite a bit of accommodating don't you think? Just how much accommodation should those with children be able to demand of their childless counterparts?

  14. Isn't the point of being pro-life that No innocent being shall be penalized for our sexual decisions? Our sexual decisions should be ours to make, and ours only to take responsibility. We could really cut down on abortions by forcing all childless people to provide/adopt/caretake for a couple of children who were going to be aborted-but that would also be wrong because it is using another person…and making another innocent person pay for your choices.

  15. Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back for allegedly 'helping out a co-worker who is temporarily physically challenged.' What about permanently physically challenged workers? Don't you help them?

    As to pregnant workers, I am guessing the kind of 'help' you give them is to drag them along to the nearest eugenics-based 'planned parenthood' abortion mill.

    Further, killer nurse "lady_black', why are you trying to appropriate African-American culture by using such a name? At least one man of color wants to know!

    Who cares if you believe Nicole's story. I don't believe about 90% of what you post here, alleged killer nurse.

  16. As you're probably figuring out, killer nurse "lady_black" is all about other people growing a heart, while she continues posting her killer pro-abortion garbage.

  17. Why can't a persons' sexual decisions NOT effect other people? It's that simple. To what degree should those without children be expected to accommodate those with children? Should all of my excess earnings go to providing for your childs' college? If a woman has 3 children with no man in her life should she have the right to take as much paid leave as she needs to take care of them properly? What if a woman gives birth to a child a year for four years, how much paid leave is she entitled to in which the rest of us have to work full time?
    Now I don't know a soul out there who would not feel accommodating towards rape victims. Rape is 100% not a choice. Conceiving children is. Even if the victim of rape did not get pregnant most of us at my job would be happy to let the victim recover at home and pick up the slack. What I am opposed to is the expectation by many who choose to have children (not all mind you) that the childless person be FORCED by law to accommodate them.

  18. I would be curious to see the results. I witnessed a huge discussion on facebook on a feminist page regarding maternity leave. There were many, many self-proclaimed feminists who were opposed to it being only for those who choose to get pregnant–because it they viewed it as discriminatory to those who don't have children.

  19. In the past it was not difficult for one parent to stay at home with the child. I personally don't believe that a young child should be shuttled off to daycare every day which is why I am waiting to have children until we can have that quality situation. That may never happen in this day and age. Regardless if it happens for me or not….I do not appreciate those who do go ahead and conceive children to treat me and my friends as if we childless exist for their personal use. Those of us who can't have children should be at least able to enjoy our extra earnings doing other things, and enjoy more free time. Of course if a coworker has properly prepared to have children and has some sort of emergency with a child–we would be happy to accommodate! What we are not happy with is the Expectation and the use of force by law to make us accommodate others personal choices.


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