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Workplace discrimination against pregnant women still a problem

Many stories of discrimination in the workplace that occur in California and throughout the entire country often involve an employer’s violation of an employee’s rights because of one’s ethnicity, race, gender or sexual orientation. But little has been said about the discrimination of pregnant women in the workplace.

Complaints of this form of discrimination increased from 3,977 in 1997 to more than 6,000 last year, according to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the senior advisor at the University of California’s Center for WorkLife Law, it is surprising that pregnancy discrimination still exists to this degree and that employers are not always timid when it comes to displaying this type of discrimination.

Although laws make it a requirement for pregnant women to receive the same accommodations in the workplace as men and women who suffer other medical conditions and injuries, for some reason these laws tend to be ignored.

One 40-year-old woman who had moved up to the manager’s position in the company she worked for since 1994, said she was fired after she told her boss that she was pregnant in 2008. She said her boss became agitated and cold toward her after she told him the news. The woman claimed that her boss had fired her because he thought that she would not be able to handle her job while taking care of a third child.

However, the woman’s boss claimed that she was fired because of the economy and that her job had been eliminated. According to the lawsuit, the woman trained an individual who resumed her position once she was let go.

After filing the lawsuit, the woman was awarded $150,000 in damages resulting from the discrimination.

The senior advisor said the economy has contributed to more instances of discrimination because employers tend to blame one’s termination as a result of the economy, attempting to hide the fact that an employee’s rights may have been violated. However, the advisor said that women, and other victims of workplace discrimination, need to continue to raise awareness of the existence of discrimination in the workplace because it is something that should never be tolerated by employers. Victims of discrimination do have rights and those rights should be protected and enforced.

Source: Star Tribune, “Pregnancy discrimination lingers in workplaces,” Jane M. Von Bergen, Nov. 27, 2011


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