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How does uniform-based pregnancy discrimination happen?

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2022 | Employment Law |

When pregnant workers hear warning stories about pregnancy discrimination, their uniform is perhaps not the first thing to come to mind.

However, it is a major way in which discrimination may end up surfacing. But how does this happen?

Workers under threat for breaking dress code

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discusses the rights of pregnant workers. Specifically, it discusses the fact that an employer cannot fire a person for being pregnant even in right to work states.

A common scenario is as follows. A pregnant worker can no longer adhere to the dress code due to her pregnancy. This is common in establishments where the workers are expected to wear skin-tight, revealing clothing. The worker chooses to wear something else to stay comfortable, or because they literally cannot physically fit into their uniform anymore. Then, their employer decides to fire them for not adhering to the dress code.

Whose rights are at risk?

This may seem like an employer’s right at first glance due to a lack of adherence to the established dress code. However, it is actually a textbook example of pregnancy discrimination. After all, if the worker was not pregnant, she would have been able to continue wearing the uniform and thus would not have gotten fired. Ergo, her pregnancy was the true cause of her being fired.

This is not something that many workers or employers consider, but it is a protection offered to pregnant workers all the same. Thus, workers at risk due to their inability to stick to a dress code should understand that their employer cannot make them adhere if they are pregnant.