Pregnancy discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination is a type of employment discrimination that occurs when expectant women are fired, not hired, or otherwise discriminated against due to their pregnancy or intention to become pregnant. Common forms of pregnancy discrimination include not being hired due to visible pregnancy or likelihood of becoming pregnant, being fired after informing an employer of one's pregnancy, being fired after maternity leave, and receiving a pay dock due to pregnancy.[1] Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women prohibits dismissal on the grounds of maternity or pregnancy and ensures right to maternity leave or comparable social benefits.[2] The Maternity Protection Convention C 183 proclaims adequate protection for pregnancy as well. Though women have some protection in the United States because of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, it has not completely curbed the incidence of pregnancy discrimination.[1] The Equal Rights Amendment could ensure more robust sex equality ensuring that women and men could both work and have children at the same time.[3]


Employers discriminate on the grounds of pregnancy for a number of reasons:[1]

  • prejudices against working women and mothers
  • fear of loss of productivity due to the absence of an employee
  • insufficient resources to support temporary employees or provide overtime pay for other employees to fulfill the duties during leave
  • belief that the employee will require too many accommodations even after her return
  • fear of loss of profits due to loss of productivity or the increased cost of productivity caused by the paid absence of an employee.