Human Resources News & Insights

Study: Most bosses wouldn't hire a pregnant woman

Do your managers know how to avoid pregnancy discrimination claims? Studies show most supervisors could use a refresher.

A recent survey in the United Kingdom asked supervisors how they thought about candidates’ pregnancy during the hiring process. The result: A whopping 76% said they wouldn’t hire someone if they knew she was pregnant or was going to get pregnant within six months of starting the job.

We aren’t sure if a survey of American bosses would yield the same results, but if the EEOC’s statistics are any indication, it’s more important than ever for employers to be careful about the issue. Pregnancy discrimination charges hit a record high in 2007, going up 14% from the year before.

Supervisor training

The key to preventing suits is education. Some things managers need to know when they’re recruiting and interviewing:

  • Don’t ask about family status or plans. Questions like those can slip out as benign chit-chat, but they also give unsuccessful candidates damaging evidence if they decide to bring a bias claim forward.
  • “Planning to have children” itself isn’t a protected class — but not hiring women who plan on having kids can lead to sex discrimination suits.
  • You can use your normal screening procedures to make sure pregnant candidates can perform the essential functions of the job — but you can’t hold them to different standards or use special procedures to determine their ability to work.

For more on pregnancy discrimination, read the EEOC’s fact sheet on the subject here.

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  • I have only one rule when it comes to ANY discrimination….“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Sad to say, this ancient rule is rarely seen in the modern arena. Do we discriminate against people that are ‘different’ from us? While we pour more stupid laws into the books to prevent such painful actions, we fail to fix the real problem, that is, the root. Whenever a human (yes, even a pregnant one) is treated differently than the masses, we should take a cold, hard look at the situation. A hard look indeed. Maybe even the mirror. For crying out loud. Give the woman a job. She needs it. Michael L. Gooch, SPHR Author – Wingtips with Spurs