It’s normal for an employer to ask where you see yourself in five years or whether or not you’re interested in moving up within the company. But, many employers go even further by asking female employees about their pregnancy plans.
Why do employers want to know whether or not an employee plans on getting pregnant in the future? Employers may want to know about your pregnancy plans so they know if you will be taking maternity leave or require special accommodations. Many employers are also under the impression that women will not be able to handle a career and family. They may think that female employees who have children are less productive or not as committed to their careers because of their family obligations.
There have been a number of studies that prove there is no truth to the “working mom myth.” Researchers have found that females’ job performance and focus typically does not suffer when they have children. In fact, one study even found that working mothers are far more engaged at work than working fathers.
This isn’t just a problem in the U.S.—women around the world have to face questions about their future pregnancy plans. Even Jacinda Ardern, the new Labour Leader in New Zealand, was asked by a reporter if she planned on having kids during her first day on the job. Many women—including Ms. Ardern—feel these questions are discriminatory since no one ever asks males about their future family plans.
Should An Employer Ask You About Your Pregnancy Plans?
The law does not prohibit employers from asking women about their plans to get pregnant. However, it does prohibit employers from discriminating against a woman because of her pregnancy or plans to get pregnant in the future.
For example, let’s say your employer asks about your pregnancy plans during an interview for a promotion and you respond that you would like to have children in the near future. Later, you find out that you didn’t get the promotion because your employer does not believe you are committed to your career. If you take legal action, the fact that your employer asked about your pregnancy plans could be enough evidence to prove that the decision to not promote you was based on your plans to have children, which is an illegal form of discrimination. For this reason, employers are strongly encouraged to avoid asking these questions to avoid legal consequences.
No woman should ever have to worry that her pregnancy will affect her career. If you have been discriminated against in the workplace, get in touch with our attorneys to find out how you can protect your rights. Call Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at 918-582-2500, or toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.