Trying to work while pregnant or as a new mother has never been harder. There’s a misconception in Australia that a woman can’t be both a good mother and an effective worker at the same time. A recent New York Times article said it well, pregnancy discrimination is rampant in America’s largest companies. Pregnant woman today get sidelined and worse, when they complain about it, they often get fired. For example, Otisha Woolbright, she was featured in that article and she asked her boss at Walmart if she could stop lifting heavy objects due to her pregnancy. Her boss though said no, “lift or leave”, and she knew though if she left, it’d be really hard to find a job while she’s pregnant. So she just kept on lifting.
But after she had her second near miscarriage, she asked for maternity leave and Walmart fired her three days later. Rachel Mountis, another example, she was also in that article. She had a similar experience in her job at Merck, the big pharmaceutical company. She was rising up the ranks, getting promoted, winning awards all before she got pregnant and that changed when she asked for maternity leave and she was fired just a few weeks before her due date.
There’s a strong network of federal and state laws (Australian Human Rights Commission, Fair work Commission, State Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissions) that protect women from pregnancy discrimination. It is 100% illegal and discriminatory to terminate a woman because she’s pregnant. Now if this has happened to you, you are legally protected, but you need to take action against the company.
Pregnancy-related firings normally happen in other one of four circumstances: (1) after the company first learns about the pregnancy or (2) after the pregnant employee asks for time off or for an accommodation for her pregnancy, (3) while on maternity leave or (4) within the first year after returning from leave.
If you suspect that you were fired because of your pregnancy, form on our website or pick up the phone and call.