Pregnancy Discrimination occurs when expectant women are fired, not hired, or otherwise discriminated against due to their pregnancy or intention to become pregnant. Common forms of pregnancy discrimination include not being hired due to visible pregnancy or likelihood of becoming pregnant, being fired after informing an employer of one’s pregnancy, being fired after maternity leave, receiving a pay dock due to pregnancy. Employers are legally bound to provide what insurance, leave pay, and additional support that would be bestowed upon any employee with medical leave or disability. This only applies to companies with more than 15 employees, so it is important to be cognizant of the way even the temporary loss of an employee may affect one organization.
Employers may be likely to discriminate if they hold prejudices against working women and mothers, fear the productivity loss due to the absence of an employee, are unable to use temporary employees, are unable to afford overtime pay for other employees to fulfill the duties during leave, or believe that the employee will require too many accommodations even after her return.
With more than 70% of women with children in the work force, pregnancy discrimination is the fastest growing type of discrimination in the country. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission mediates claims betweens employees and employers. In 2004, the EEOC handled 4,512 claims with an eventual monetary pay-out by various organizations totaling $12.4 million.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
In 1978, the U.S. Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to the sex discrimination section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act stated that individuals may not be discriminated against "...because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, included receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs, as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work..."
In 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act further extended the protections of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The Act guarantees eligible employees of covered businesses up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period for one of four issues. They include the birth of and care for a newborn, the placement of a foster or adopted child in the employee's home, care for an immediate family member who is seriously ill or the employee's own serious illness.
In 2002, California's Paid Family Leave (PFL) insurance program, also known as the Family Temporary Disability Insurance (FTDI) program, extended unemployment disability compensation to cover individuals who take time off of work to bond with a new minor child. PFL covers employees who take time off to bond with their own child or their registered domestic partner's child, or a child placed for adoption or foster-care with them or their domestic partner.
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