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Why employees may hesitate to request pregnancy accommodations

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2024 | Employment Law |

Pregnancy can be an exciting experience, but it can also be challenging. This is often especially so when pregnant people are employed in positions that are difficult to execute in the event of pregnancy complications, as many expecting parents experience a variety of physical changes that can alter their ability to perform certain job duties.

Thankfully, under the law, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees. However, despite these legal protections, many workers hesitate to request the accommodations they need.

Fear of discrimination and retaliation

One of the primary reasons why an employee might hesitate to request pregnancy accommodations is the fear of discrimination or retaliation from their employer or colleagues. Even with legal protections, some employees fear that requesting accommodations could lead to retaliation from supervisors or colleagues.

Despite laws such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, some employees may still worry about negative repercussions. They might worry about being passed over for projects or even facing termination.

Fear of perception

Pregnancy is a natural bodily function, but societal pressures can lead some women to worry that requesting accommodations may make them seem weak or incapable. There’s a misconception that needing adjustments implies they can’t handle the job. Additionally, there’s an unfortunate stigma that needing accommodations during pregnancy can negatively impact an employee’s chances of future promotions. Women might worry that asking for help will be seen as a lack of dedication or ambition, even though the law safeguards against this kind of retaliation.

Unfamiliarity with rights

Some employees, especially new mothers, might be unaware of their legal right to request accommodations. They may not know what kind of adjustments are possible or what process to use when requesting the accommodations.

Logistical concerns

Initiating a conversation about pregnancy accommodations can feel awkward, especially for employees with strained relationships with their supervisors. They might worry about how to bring it up and navigate the discussion. Furthermore, the process of requesting accommodations can be unclear. Employees might be unsure if their requests will be approved, and the uncertainty can be discouraging.

Pregnancy shouldn’t be a barrier to a successful and fulfilling career. If you’re a pregnant employee, you shouldn’t hesitate to request reasonable accommodation to make your work easier. Should your employer refuse to provide these accommodations, it can help to involve a legal team who can help you hold your employer accountable.