When a woman is pregnant, it should be something that is celebrated. Regardless of an employer or supervisor’s personal beliefs on whether to be a parent, women cannot and should not be subjected to pregnancy discrimination. While the law in Los Angeles and across the country says one thing, employers’ actions are another. Unlike many other forms of discrimination in the workplace, however, many people’s assumptions about pregnant women are subconscious and, thus, not seen to be negative.

Unfortunately, just because it may seem innocent that a supervisor wants to talk more about a woman’s pregnancy than her job or her performance, doesn’t mean that discrimination against pregnant women isn’t costing them advancement. Many times, employers, be they men or women, are more likely to assume that a woman is less interested in advancement or new opportunities when they know she is or will be a mother.

The evidence comes from a 2007 study in which it was discovered that pregnant women or mothers were making less money than women who did not have children. In fact, the income difference between these two groups of women was greater than the wage gap between men and women. Similarly, employers sometimes rewarded men for being fathers.

Employers cannot discriminate against their pregnant employees or pass them up for promotions or new opportunities on the basis of their pregnancy. Assuming that a pregnant employee will be unable to take or is uninterested in a new job may seem innocent, but it is still discrimination. When women do face this kind of discrimination, it is important to work with an employment law attorney to seek compensation and justice for the workplace discrimination.

Source: The Atlantic, “The Pregnancy Penalty: How Working Women Pay for Having Kids,” Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Dec. 13, 2012