Pregnancy discrimination continues to plague employers. The number of discrimination charges filed with the EEOC has barely dropped from its historic highs, employees are winning very large verdicts, and the EEOC has made eradicating pregnancy discrimination an enforcement priority.
Pregnancy discrimination claims arise when pregnant women believe they are being treated differently from nonpregnant employees, such as being denied benefits or opportunities, disciplined more harshly, held to stricter standards of punctuality, or passed over for promotion. Pregnancy claims can also arise when an employer’s policies appear to disadvantage pregnant women, such as a policy that prohibits taking leave during the first year or employment. Claims can also arise from negative comments about pregnancy and pregnant women, harassing workloads or unnecessarily increased stress, denial of time off for prenatal appointments, negative treatment after requesting or taking pregnancy-related leave, or termination.
Too many employers make costly mistakes. Even if they don’t end up in a courtroom, their errors create distractions, hurt morale, and lead to the loss of valuable employees — all of which threatens the company’s ability to provide excellent service and products. Contact us for help protecting your company.
Which of the following statements are true under federal law?
A. If a pregnant woman comes to work late, I can terminate her legally for failing to adhere to our attendance policy.
B. If a pregnant woman works in a dangerous area of our company, I can transfer her to a different job.
C. If a pregnant woman can’t do her job because of pregnancy complications, she has to go out on leave.
D. If a pregnant woman uses up all of her leave before she has her baby, I can terminate her lawfully.
E. When an employee tells me she is pregnant, the first thing I should do is ask her for a doctor’s note saying what work she can do.
How many did you say were true? Click here for the answers.
The Causes of Pregnancy Discrimination
Why is this happening, and what can be done about it?
The key to unlocking this puzzle is unconscious bias. We may be familiar with unconscious bias in the context of race/ethnicity and gender, and it underlies discrimination against pregnant women as well. Without being aware of it, many of us make negative assumptions about the value of employees once they are expecting: they will be sick too much, they will take long leaves, they won’t be as competent, they won’t be as committed to their jobs, they’ll be lazy, they will just quit. And to make matters worse, after they have their babies, they will be mothers — and that triggers a set of different (but related) negative assumptions about dependability and commitment. read more