It has been decades since women gained the same rights as men. As little girls we are told that we can do what ever we want to do when we grow up. For the most part this is true, there are still certain things that we cannot do such as be on the front lines of a war, but we have gained a lot of ground in the work place. Even then we still lose out during our child bearing years because of pregnancy discrimination.
You would think that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would have protected pregnant women in the work place, but it didn't. It was another 14 years before there was an amendment to the original bill to protect us. It seems that a lot of employers have either forgotten about or don't know about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and even less pregnant women know about it. Women in low paying jobs are most at risk for being discriminated against, but even executive moms can see the effects their pregnancy takes on their career. The amount of women filing pregnancy discrimination lawsuits is rising, which is a disturbing trend.
Employers are worried about women not coming back after maternity leave, being too wrapped up in the mom world after baby, amount of time off for appointments and if the baby gets sick, plus everything that goes with being a working mom. The United States has no law in place making sick days for employees mandatory, so for some women just getting the time off so they can go to prenatal appointments can be a job risk. Low paying jobs are not likely to allow pregnant women accommodations so they are able to work their whole pregnancy, and encourage them to either quit or go on maternity leave early. Some will even go as far as to fire them just because they are pregnant. If you are pregnant while looking for a job you are certain to find out that the majority of employers will not hire you, just because you are pregnant.
During all three of my pregnancies I encountered Pregnancy Discrimination first hand. My first pregnancy I was planning on working until I delivered, but when I was 38 1/2 weeks along I was left off of the schedule and told that they couldn't risk me just calling in because I was in labor and it would be easier for them if I just wasn't on the schedule any more. My second pregnancy I went into preterm labor at 32 weeks and was put on strict bed rest for 8 weeks. After a total of 14 weeks off, I came back to find that the woman that had been covering my position while I was on extended maternity leave was now in that position full time, leaving me with my hours cut to the point where it was hardly worth me working anymore. With two small children at home they cut me more and more until I finally quit. With my third pregnancy I had been with the company for just over 2 years, I had no quality issues, no write ups, and was even re writing their training manuals for them. My doctor wanted me to have my FMLA paperwork filed out very early on in my pregnancy due to the bedrest from my second pregnancy. I went to HR to get the paperwork, and was basically told that I would be going on maternity leave early since he felt that I pregnant women couldn't work til they delivered. The day that my FMLA paperwork was faxed to them, I was fired. Since I live in a no fault state, they didn't have to have a reason to fire me, but I knew why it was.
When men announce that they are going to be a dad everyone congratulations them. When women announce they are going to be a mom they are asked when they are going to go on leave, how long of a leave they are going to take, if they are thinking about not coming back to work, how are they going to take off days for doctors visits, if they are sure that they are going to be able to be a working mom, and some where in there they hopefully will be congratulated by their employer. All women should be worried about members of their fellow sex being discriminated against for something that is a natural part of the circle of life, but most of us do not know that this action is against the law. We take the discrimination as something that is a normal part of life and turn our backs on the problem. It will take all of us to stop pregnancy discrimination, not just pregnant women.