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The days when a woman would quit her job the minute she got married may be well and truly gone, but women still do face discrimination in the workplace. Pregnancy, unsurprisingly, offers a wonderful opportunity for workplace discrimination. Are you facing an unfair dismissal, pressure not to attend prenatal appointments during working hours, or problems surrounding planned maternity leave? You are not alone.

In fact, "fertility discrimination" is something many women encounter during their job interview. In developed nations, employers are prohibited from asking potential workers about their plans for a family, but it still happens. "Are you planning on having children soon?" is just as likely to be asked as, "Why do you want to leave your current job?"

One very risky strategy to avoid pregnancy discrimination is to inform your potential employer that you might want to get pregnant in the near future, during the interview. If they hire women who are open about job hunting while trying to conceive, they will not sack you for becoming pregnant. Few women would actually try this, and with good reason. Seeking out companies that are known to be family-friendly may be a more realistic possibility. None of that will help you if you are currently expecting a baby and having trouble at work because of it, of course. If you are in that situation, there are things you can do. They include:

  • Contacting your trade union for help. Pregnancy discrimination is a very sound reason to join up as soon as you get a job.
  • If you are in the United States, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Other countries have similar organizations that will help pregnant women facing workplace discrimination or termination of employment.
  • Know your rights look up the relevant employment laws and threaten your employer with legal action.
  • Engage a lawyer privately to fight whatever pregnancy discrimination issue it is you are facing.
  • Go to the press. Stories about pregnant women being fired appear fairly often, and these reports may help prevent pregnancy discrimination in the workplace for others.

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