Can your employer deny a promotion because you are pregnant?

When an employee makes an attempt at a higher position within the company for which they are clearly a perfect fit, it can be suspicious when their request for a promotion meets with blatant denial. This scenario is an unfortunately common occurrence when it comes to pregnant workers.

Some employers might see it as a risk to place you into a position of responsibility if you are pregnant because you will likely take an extended leave when the child arrives. Even so, this is a morally questionable decision you can contest by knowing your rights and protections against workplace discrimination.

Is promotion refusal an example of pregnancy discrimination?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits all forms of sex discrimination in the workplace. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act further amends this law, establishing pregnancy discrimination as a form of sex discrimination. Unfavorable treatment toward an employee on the basis of pregnancy, including denial of a promotion, is an illegal act of pregnancy discrimination.

How should you respond to pregnancy discrimination?

You do not have to accept unfair or discriminatory treatment in the workplace so long as you follow the appropriate steps toward a favorable outcome. You have the right to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in pursuit of a just conclusion to the situation. Be sure to collect relevant evidence of discriminatory behavior to help strengthen your case.

If it becomes clear that you are a target of discrimination in the workplace, it is important to explore your legal options. Your work life and overall career should never be at risk due to pregnancy or other commonly discriminated-against factors.