Pregnancy discrimination recently made headlines again when presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said she lost a teaching job once she became visibly pregnant. While some outlets cast doubt on the claims, many women knew this was a story that was far too common than most men realize.
Despite laws to protect women who want to start families, many women still face pregnancy discrimination in their day-to-day lives. Some women do not even have to be pregnant for discrimination to start. Some employers will see a young woman who perhaps just married and suspect she will want to have a child soon. The employers may not hire this woman for fear she will take time off, so they just avoid hiring her in the first place. It is critical to be aware of the signs of discrimination and to fight for your rights if you suspect it happened to you.
Illegal questions to ask in an interview
Even if a job applicant is visibly pregnant, it is illegal for an employer to ask, “Are you pregnant?” during a job interview. It would also be illegal for a hiring manager to ask, “Are you trying to have a family?” The problem with these questions is that the employer wants to ascertain whether the woman will need to take time off for maternity leave, as allowed by the state of California, in the near future. Some employers would rather hire a man or an older woman who has already had kids than lose a new employee so soon.
Some employers will try to get around this by asking, “Do you have any leave planned?” It does not directly address a possible pregnancy, so you should avoid offering more information than you need to. Additionally, you need to pay attention to what kinds of accommodations they offer current employees with disabilities or other conditions that require special attention. If the employer cannot provide similar accommodations for you for becoming pregnant, then it could be a clear-cut sign of pregnancy discrimination.