Pregnancy discrimination is unlawful in Pennsylvania and everywhere else in the country. The economic and financial problems this type of discrimination can be harmful for women in the workforce and their growing families, especially since pregnancy and early childhood can come with enlarged household bills. However, the problems caused by pregnancy discrimination are not limited to the immediate financial repercussions or even the broader social harms caused by workplaces that exclude women and mothers.
Pregnancy discrimination is a health issue
According to one study published by researchers at Baylor University, pregnancy discrimination is linked directly to negative health consequences for both mothers and newborn babies. The study tracked incidents of pregnancy discrimination, stress, postpartum depression and other symptoms, as reported by the mothers involved in the study. Researchers also took note of objective criteria like the baby’s gestational age at birth, heart rates, respiration, birth weight, reflex responses and medical visits. As a result, the researchers found that employment discrimination actively injured the health of mothers and babies.
Effects of discrimination are wide-ranging
Not only can discriminatory treatment lead to stress, depression, and the physical and mental health outcomes associated with them, pregnancy discrimination in particular was linked to higher rates of postpartum depression. Babies born to mothers who were subjected to discrimination in the workplace during their pregnancies were more likely to be born early, have lower birth weights and require more trips to the doctor due to health concerns. Researchers noted that these health outcomes underline the importance of firmly addressing workplace discrimination.
Pregnancy discrimination can take many forms, from outright firing or demotion to the loss of a promotion, social isolation and stereotyping or discriminatory performance reviews. Mothers who have suffered negative consequences due to discrimination on the job may consult with an employment law attorney about seeking redress through a pregnancy discrimination claim against their employer.