The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission says it has helped settle three complaints from women who say they lost work because they were pregnant.
Their employers — a beauty salon, a cleaning company and a restaurant — all had to pay compensation ranging between $1,400 and $3,500.
“It doesn't have to be the dominant factor. It just has to be a factor, the pregnancy, in terms of a demotion for her or a termination,” said Lisa Teryl, a lawyer for the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.
The settlements also include apologies from employers and promises to improve company policies.
The details of the complaints, all settled in 2013, are not included in the settlement agreements recently posted online.
Teryl says it's vital that workers do not feel disadvantaged for having a child.
"So as a society we want to create a workplace where you're not punished for having children, that having children is a good thing and that we will create a workplace that makes you feel like there's not a disadvantage to having a child. That you won't be demoted or lose out on promotions because of your pregnancy,” she said.
The Human Rights Act was amended to explicitly prohibit pregnancy discrimination in 1992, including the possibility of pregnancy and circumstances related to pregnancy.
"Fortunately, pregnancy probably isn't one of the most common grounds for a complaint these days. Typically disability is a difficult one to deal with in employment and mental disability is particularly difficult," said Halifax labour lawyer Bettina Quistgaard.
The commission handled a fourth complaint from a youth justice worker whose contract was not renewed after she became pregnant.
In that case, a board of inquiry sided with the employer, which testified the employee showed bad judgment at work.