Should I Hide My Pregnancy At Work?
Pregnancy can be a life-altering experience. Unfortunately, for many women, pregnancy can also alter their careers. If you are trying to decide whether you need to hide your pregnancy to protect your job or career, you are not alone. While ultimately the choice is a personal one, and it is yours, we’ll provide some guidance in this article about the legal protections that exist for those pregnant in the workplace. This general information may help you make a decision. If you would like feedback on your individual case, contact the experienced employment law attorneys at the Costanzo Law Firm to schedule a personalized consultation.
Pregnancy Protection in Employment
There are a number of state and federal laws that protect pregnant employees from discrimination in the workplace. These laws include the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Legally, pregnancy is tied to gender. Gender is a protected status, meaning that it is illegal to fire, harass, retaliate or discriminate against any employee based on their gender. It is therefore also illegal to fire, harass, retaliate or discriminate against an employee based on their pregnancy status. For instance, if a pregnant employee is passed over for a promotion as a result of their pregnancy, this constitutes illegal discrimination, as they have now suffered a negative employment action (being passed over for a promotion) as a result of their pregnancy status.
Should I Tell My Boss I’m Pregnant?
It is a highly personal decision whether to tell your boss and co-workers about your pregnancy. However, for many, keeping it a secret is often not an option long-term either. Some people may hope to avoid discrimination on the basis of pregnancy by not disclosing it to anyone at their workplace. However, somewhat ironically, one of the elements for proving discrimination on the basis of pregnancy is knowledge of the pregnancy. In order to show that you were fired, harassed, retaliated or discriminated against for being pregnant, you must show that your employer was aware of your pregnancy. In this way, trying to keep your pregnancy a secret may backfire. Even if your employer learns your secret, it will be hard to establish knowledge, whereas if you told them or if they attended your baby shower the burden will be on them to refute it.
Another benefit to informing your employer about your pregnancy is that once they are on notice, they have an obligation to provide any necessary reasonable accommodations that would allow you to continue doing your job while coping with pregnancy symptoms, complications, or related conditions. Reasonable accommodations during pregnancy will vary based on your specific needs, but they may include things like allowing you to take more breaks or to sit on a stool.
Talk to a San Jose Employment Law Attorney
If you have been discriminated against on the basis of your gender, pregnancy, or other protected status by an employer, the experienced San Jose employment lawyers at Costanzo Law Firm are ready to help. Contact us today to schedule a personalized consultation.