When my wife became pregnant with our second child, she was the victim of "benevolent" pregnancy discrimination, i.e. "Of course, you can't handle your job any more because you are pregnant" and "[Despite what the physicians say], we're only doing this to protect you and the baby." Although I am an attorney practicing employment law, I didn't learn of the problem until later and then it was, for practical purposes, too late to repair the damage done to her career by such stereotyping. I then asked around in our circle of friends and found (a) numerous similar experiences; and (b) surprise expressed that such treatment may have been unlawful."
What should you do if you feel you've been discriminated against?
In certain circumstances, the Americans with Disabilities Act may offer some protection to a woman who is pregnant. Keep in mind that a woman going through a normal pregnancy is not disabled and may not be protected by the ADA. If your pregnancy is complicated, you may qualify as "disabled" under the ADA. As such, you are entitled to be reasonably accommodated by your company so that you can perform the essential functions of your job. This is a complex subject and you should get help from legal counsel with expertise in these issues.
If anyone would like a printed summary of the federal rights of pregnant women, you can send Wendel a self-addressed stamped envelope:
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