There's the outright conjecture, she said, over the woman's ability to perform, when employment laws require pregnancy to be treated as any other medical disability.
For example, if a man returning from a heart attack gets an accommodation, a pregnant woman with complications is entitled to the same.
Interestingly, Calvert said, the third pregnancy tends to be a tipping point for employers and discrimination. "When the third child comes along," she said, the pressure "goes into hyperdrive."
It also appears that when male managers "really invest in a woman's career," as Beans did in Santai's rise within his organization, "they feel personally betrayed by a pregnancy."
Calvert said the economy has also had an effect.
"When the economy soured, we were hearing anecdotally that people were experiencing more discrimination. Supervisors could use the economy as a way to get rid of people."
Then, as downsized companies reshuffled, the few managers that remained weren't as familiar with the capabilities of their new reports. When it came to layoffs, "they made the assumption that the deadwood was the mothers," Calvert said.
Yet "people were so afraid they were going to lose their jobs that they were afraid to complain," she said.
Indeed, EEOC pregnancy-discrimination complaints, which had risen steadily from 3,977 in 1997 to a peak of 6,285 in 2008, have dropped off nationally to 6,119 in 2010.
"Nearly 30 years after the pregnancy-discrimination act was passed, we would have expected it to be a nonissue," said EEOC spokeswoman Christine Nazar.
"The bottom line," she said, "is that women should never be forced to choose between motherhood and their livelihood."
Copyright 2011 The Philadelphia Inquirer; distributed by MCT Information Services
Pregnancy discrimination lingers in workplaces
Discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace is a prevalent as ever.