Pregnancy Discrimination – Uncle Sam Wants to Know if You are Perpetuating the Problem
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) says pregnancy discrimination is still rampant, more than 30 years after the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”). Hearings were just held in Washington to discuss the problem. Pregnancy discrimination claims made up only 5.8% of the agency’s caseload last year, but the EEOC is nonetheless poised to crack down on this form of discrimination. Experts claim part of the problem appears to be employers’ difficulty in understanding the interplay among three federal laws that apply to pregnant workers – the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (which the PDA amended to include pregnancy), and the Family and Medical Leave Act. But, testimony at the hearing also revealed blatant discrimination, such as an employee who was physically able to work, but whose employer would not allow her to alter her uniform to accommodate her pregnancy. Other problems occur when employers decide they know what is best for a pregnant woman without medical verification to support their conclusion, i.e., refusing to allow a pregnant woman to perform a job based on safety concerns without support from a medical practitioner. The EEOC hearing did not recommend changes to the law, but should serve as a warning to employers that more rigorous enforcement is on the horizon. Be prepared or be sorry.
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