Pregnant workers don’t want extra attention, study finds
When a female worker becomes pregnant, she doesn't want "John" to take on some of her duties. She doesn't want "Mary" to go on the special business trip because she may be in better shape. According to new research, she wants to be treated exactly the same as prior to pregnancy.
In a study published recently in the Academy of Management Journal, most pregnant employees agreed with the statements "I try not to ask for accommodation" and "I try to get more done at work."
The journal entry insists the findings "refute many of the stereotypes associated with pregnant workers." The responses, though, reflect a fear that's been around for ages: Will my career be negatively impacted by this pregnancy?
According to Rosemary Gousman, a regional managing partner with labor law firm Fisher & Phillips in Murray Hill, New Jersey has some of the best protections in place for pregnant employees.
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, Gousman noted, was amended in 2014 to include workers dealing with pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. Essentially, the change requires employers to "accommodate" pregnant employees.
"The statute actually defines some of the accommodations, and that could include bathroom breaks, breaks for increased water," Gousman said. "The employer has to give the employee that accommodation unless they can prove that it would be an undue hardship on the business operation."
The revision affects employers of all shapes and sizes.
Pregnant workers and new mothers can also benefit from the federal and state leave acts, but they must be employed for a certain amount of time, and smaller employers are not included.
It is unlawful, meanwhile, for someone to lose their job over use of the Family and Medical Leave Act or the NJ Family Leave Act. Gousman said there are certain circumstances in which companies can get around this, but for the most part, a pregnant person's job is "guaranteed" upon return.
The laws in place are a win for moms-to-be, as long as the right people understand the law.
"The question is, who at the employer knows that there are rules that need to be followed?" Gousman said. "Sometimes that doesn't make it all the way down to the supervisors or the co-workers."