Pregnancy Harassment in the Workplace

Pregnancy in the officeStand up for your rights. Say ‘no’ to pregnancy discrimination.

While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) clearly stipulates that “women who are pregnant or are affected by related medical conditions must be treated in exactly the same way as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations”, it is sad to note that pregnancy discrimination continues to persist across all industries and geographical areas in the US.

In addition, lawyers for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said that pregnancy discrimination cases are present in all professional and income levels, although pregnant women who hold physically demanding positions and receive lower wages are more susceptible to blatant discrimination.

A Closer Look at Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

The PDA prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and other related medical conditions. As such, employers cannot refuse to hire pregnant woman or terminate them from work due to their condition. They should be permitted to work as long as they can perform their duties and should not be prohibited from returning to work after recovering from a pregnancy-related condition or for a predetermined time after giving birth.

The law also states that any health insurance provided by the employer should cover expenses from pregnancy-related conditions and should be reimbursed exactly as those incurred from other medical conditions. Moreover, pregnancy benefits should not be limited to married employees.

According to the data published by the EEOC, they have received close to 4,000 complaints in FY 2011, 3,745 complaints in FY 2012 and 3,541 complaints in FY 2013, and recovered $13.9 million, $14.3 million and $17 million in settlements for the aggrieved parties during the said fiscal years.

Putting an End to Pregnancy Discrimination
Here are some ways by which you can put a stop to pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

  • Put it in writing. Follow the company’s policy regarding pregnancy discrimination and report it to the proper department. Make sure you put your complaint in writing and keep a copy of the document in your personal file.
  • File a charge with EEOC. If the company doesn’t investigate and take the necessary action to correct the situation, it is time to file a formal discrimination charge with the EEOC. Since the EEOC has a lot on their hands right now, it may take some time before they can give their findings so you may want them to mediate between you and your employer to settle things faster.
  • Talk to an employment lawyer in your state. You can better protect yourself and your baby by hiring a qualified employment lawyer who will stand up for your rights.