How To Deal With Pregnancy Discrimination In The Workplace

Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace happens not only in the corporate corridors but also in the warehouse levels. It is everywhere. Whether in the form of termination, negative performance evaluations, reduced wages or missed promotions, career setbacks are often a woman’s due after the announcement of pregnancy


Australia signed the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women or CEDAW passed by the United Nations in 1981. This was followed by the Sexual Discrimination Act 1984 which made any discrimination based on pregnancy or motherhood illegal. However, the situation is far from ideal. 

According to a 2014 survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), almost every second woman employee or 49% accepted to having faced discrimination in their workplace related to pregnancy. Sociologist Michelle Budig wrote that women experience an average 4% salary loss for every pregnancy.

Fight the discrimination

The law states that employers should treat pregnant employees at par with other medical conditions disabling a worker and support them with all benefits but discrimination still occurs. Therefore, knowing your rights and the recourses available in these scenarios is very important. Here are some pointers on how to deal with pregnancy discrimination in the workplace:

1. Make an official announcement

As soon as you announce your pregnancy officially, you are covered by the laws under anti-discrimination legislation. This step insulates you against discriminatory step taken by the employer thereafter. In the absence of an official announcement, employers can claim that termination or demotion decisions are independent of your pregnant status.

2. Report all related health-complications 

Make your employer aware of your pregnancy-related health conditions that can affect or influence your normal working and work out reasonable accommodations accordingly. These can include leaves for medical appointments, flexible work timings, remote work, frequent breaks, etc. This step helps prevent any discriminatory action and in claiming recourse later too. However, if discrimination still results owing to pregnancy, then take steps promptly.

3. Make sure it was ‘discrimination’

Being treated in a less favorable way due to your pregnancy can be in the form of direct and indirect discrimination. However, not all unequal treatments qualify. For instance, the Equal Opportunity Act allows declining of employment if it affects the health and occupational safety of all or any parties involved. 

4. Document all details and instances

In short, record all instances with date, time, place and witnesses. If you have meetings to discuss such discrimination, follow with emails confirming the content of discussions. If an action such as termination, demotion or bypassing of opportunities occur request for written reasons or emails.

5. File a formal complaint with the company

A formal report in the form of a written complaint to your superiors or the Human Resource department should be made as soon as possible. Seek advice from peers, worker unions and keep details of your grievance procedure. Sometimes, resolutions are provided through mechanisms working under company’s discrimination policy. 

6. Knock at appropriate commissions

You can consider filing a complaint with relevant commission authorities such as the equal opportunity, fair work, human rights commission or any other place. These commissions resolve matters through conciliation, investigation, and settlement with the help of impartial members.

7. Go to court

If you still fail to find a solution for being discriminated against, you can look for legal counsel. It is a fact that pregnancy discrimination lawsuits are quite tricky and difficult, therefore, it is absolutely necessary to look for professional help. For instance, quitting your work can negatively affect your case, also you have to be mindful of the time-limit of application, etc. Proper legal advice and detailed documentation can see you through and help you avoid loopholes.

Reach out for legal assistance

All workplaces should have effectively trained employers and managers well-versed with applicable laws, and workplace policies should include assistance and accommodation to avoid pregnancy discrimination. Still, discrimination occurs either because of a pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition. 

When this happens, ask for advice from a lawyer as soon as possible. A good lawyer can help you sustain your professional benefits and also recover any losses you may have incurred since the incident. Pregnancy is a fundamental human and women’s right. Don’t hesitate from enforcing this right. You can visit Prime Lawyers to get the right legal support and advice.


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