Having a child is a big change for your daily life. Everything from when you eat to when you sleep will suddenly revolve around the uncontrollable demands of a tiny, unpredictable human.
Most new mothers take several weeks off after the birth of their child. However, unless their employers offer generous maternity leave, new moms often realize quickly that they have to return to work. That return could be as early as just 12 weeks after the birth of their child if they can only take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Unfortunately, new mothers often experience discrimination in the workplace. What are some of the ways employers make work unnecessarily difficult for new moms?
They don’t accommodate breastfeeding
Under both Federal law and Minnesota state law, lactating or breastfeeding women have specific rights when they come back to work. Your employer should provide you with a private, clean space other than a bathroom where you can nurse your child or pump milk. They should allow you to take as many breaks as necessary to remain comfortable and ensure a consistent supply of milk for the child.
They cut a woman’s pay, hours or position when she returns
Taking unpaid leave should not negatively impact your position at the company. Your employer should allow you to return to the same job or a comparable one. However, many employers resent workers taking time off for even legally permissible medical reasons. They may retaliate by cutting someone’s hours, reducing their pay or otherwise giving them less compensation or worse work.
They find an excuse to let her go
The sad truth is that many companies will choose not to accommodate a new mother at all. They might assume that her family responsibilities will always come before her job, or they may worry about what her health care costs will mean for the overall costs for health insurance for the company.
An employer may refuse accommodations that you need to get back to work or just find little excuses to write you up so that they can fire you. If your employer is not accommodating and accepting of your pregnancy or motherhood but rather hostile about it, you may face discrimination and retaliation if you try to assert your rights.
Fighting back against the mistreatment of new mothers can help a woman protect her own career and fight sexism in the workplace.