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Survey Reveals Pregnancy Discrimination in Oncology

January 5th, 2023
Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Support Expectant Female Employees Facing Workplace Discrimination.

Balancing a career and starting a family can be challenging and even more so for pregnant women who have demanding jobs. One might think that expectant female physicians would not be subject to unfair treatment in their workplace, but a recent study claims that this kind of discrimination does exist.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open and is based on a 39-question survey given to around 1,000 female oncologists. Aside from asking about discrimination, the questionnaire sought information about family planning, fertility, and childbearing. About 73 percent of the participating physicians had given birth to at least one child, and the majority had two. For almost 95 percent, family planning factored into their career decisions. Almost 66 percent had pregnancy complications.

The female oncologists who completed the survey also reported a miscarriage (31.7 percent), and around the same percentage had infertility issues and sought counseling and treatment. About 66 percent felt that fertility preservation was an important topic that should be discussed with female medical students and residents.

As far as discrimination goes, 32.1 percent responded that they had experienced discrimination during their pregnancy. One of the main complaints was that their employers had either specifically stated or implied that the respondents should return to work before their maternity leave ended. The study also showed that female oncologist physicians with three or more children faced more discrimination than ones with two children.

What Are the Signs of Pregnancy Discrimination?

Expectant oncologists can face the same kinds of mistreatment as other female workers in different industries. These might include:

  • An employer that does not provide reasonable accommodations.
  • Harassments, threats, and retaliation for speaking out about the discrimination.
  • Reduced responsibilities and pay, including demotions.
  • Denied paid or unpaid leave.
  • Refusing to reinstate the employee to her previous position once she returns from maternity leave.
  • Firing a pregnant female employee without just cause.

The report’s researchers concluded that systemic changes are required to help female oncologists achieve the support they need to advance equitability in this field. The group plans to do further qualitative research in this regard and offered a few recommendations in the meantime. Early, comprehensive education on assisted reproduction technologies, including the success rates, risks, and benefits, is helpful, but this is only part of the overall picture.

The researchers advocate for creating cultures that support medical students and physicians who want to use these technologies and delay their fertility. The report’s conclusion also included an emphasis on supporting women physicians from their medical school beginnings throughout their careers, during every stage of their pregnancy.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Support Expectant Female Employees Facing Workplace Discrimination

Pregnant female employees who face discrimination have the right to speak out about the mistreatment, but even if they do, the problem might not be solved. For legal help, reach out to one of our experienced Philadelphia employment lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. We offer free consultations, and we will fight to protect your rights. Complete our online form or call us at 215-569-1999. Located in Pennsauken, New Jersey and Philadelphia, we serve clients in South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Lehigh County, and Montgomery County.

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