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Pregnant women are experiencing discrimination at work

A recent survey by the National Partnership for Women & Families revealed that most women continue to work while they are pregnant. An astonishing number of employers do not accommodate their needs before or after giving birth. While the Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to provide time off to employees who have health issues and are pregnant, the letter of the law is not always followed.

Common needs of pregnant women on the job include a change in duties to accommodate the pregnancy and time off for OB/GYN visits. Many women, the survey revealed, are afraid to ask for these accommodations. Of the ones who do ask, a startling percentage of them are denied their requests. This can, and has, led to compromises in the health and safety of both the mother and the baby.

Further, minorities and women who lack college degrees are more likely to experience these problems. Pregnancy discrimination cases have been rising in recent years, with the number of discrimination charges being filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rising 65 percent between 1992 and 2007.

There is a federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act in place that is supposed to prohibit employers from discriminating against an employee because she is pregnant or has recently given birth. However, some employers ignore this and treat their pregnant workers poorly, sometimes even forcing them out of their jobs.

A few states have stepped in with laws of their own prohibiting pregnancy discrimination. Texas is one of those states. It passed a law requiring reasonable accommodations be made for pregnant women in the workplace.

Women who feel as though they have been discriminated against by their employer due to their pregnancy or childbirth can file discrimination charges at the federal or state level. Taking legal action may get the woman who experienced the discrimination the financial compensation she deserves. Attorneys who specialize in workplace discrimination can handle these cases. 

Source: ThinkProgress, "Why Are Workplaces Still Not Ready For Pregnant Workers?," Bryce Covert, Jan. 31, 2014

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