Women have long been a part of the American workforce, and their rights to do so have also long been protected by federal law. However, sex-based employment discrimination is more common than many people are aware. Last year alone, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received more than 30,350 complaints of this type of illegal discrimination. Of these, 3,745 complaints alleged pregnancy discrimination.
Not only are employers barred from both refusing to hire and deciding to fire women on the basis of pregnancy, but they also cannot legally treat pregnant employees differently than other employees because of pregnancy or a pregnancy-related health condition. The EEOC recently settled a pregnancy discrimination complaint with a Laredo, Texas, company.
The employer, an oil and gas measuring and analysis company, was accused of firing a clerk because she requested time off after suffering a miscarriage.
It is very clearly against the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 for employers to make employment decisions based on pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions related to pregnancy.
The company has agreed to settle the case for $100,000.
The EEOC has stated in a press release: "Employers should not assume that miscarriages will affect employees' ability to work."
Of course, employers are not only supposed to refrain from doing this because they may assess the situation incorrectly, but also because it is not their right.
The number of pregnancy-related discrimination cases has been on the rise in recent years. It is very unfortunate that so many women are running into this unfair and illegal employment obstacle. It is good to see, however, that so many victims of discrimination are coming forward to hold their employers accountable under the law.
Victims of pregnancy discrimination may benefit from legal counsel.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Platinum P.T.S. To Pay $100k to Settle EEOC Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit," Aug. 8, 2013