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How and why does pregnancy discrimination happen?

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2022 | Discrimination |

In the workplace, many types of discrimination can and do happen. This is despite a nationwide effort to address, tackle and eliminate discrimination of all kinds.

Pregnancy discrimination also continues to serve as a major issue in the country. Though it does not have as much media attention as other forms of discrimination, it can cause just as much damage for the victims.

Why does this discrimination happen?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discusses the way pregnancy discrimination happens, as well as potential reasons for it. The primary reason happens due to a misguided belief that pregnant women will either leave their job after giving birth or that the quality of their work will significantly decline after having a child.

However, many states already have laws that prohibit the firing of pregnant workers simply for their pregnancy. Because of this, many employers trying to rid themselves of pregnant workers will utilize other, more underhanded and subtle methods of discrimination. The general goal is to make the work environment so uncomfortable for the worker in question that they will quit due to feeling that they have no other options.

How “icing out” works

“Icing out” pregnant workers serves as one of the most popular ways of doing this. In this technique, the victim in question essentially ends up cut off from the rest of the staff, both socially and in terms of the work itself. For example, they may get left out of meetings and social gatherings.

Additionally, any talk of upward movement will also grind to a halt, such as raises or promotions. Together, this can discourage many pregnant workers from continuing.