Have things improved for women on the work front for pregnant women? Government agencies received as many as 5,370 charges complaining about pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.
One of the most common complaints is employers fired them because they got pregnant. Although it is illegal to discriminate against women based on their pregnancy since the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers still do not follow the norms. It takes a government agency to pose a reminder. The Equal Employment Opportunity issued new guidance on interpreting the norms on PDA and the laws that protect pregnant women on the job. Here are some norms that every woman should know about: pregnant, working, and facing discrimination on the work front.
Companies Cannot Fire Employees for Being Pregnant
Since it is illegal to sack a female employee based on her pregnancy, employers try to mask their intentions, by resorting to not above-board tactics. And most organizations get away with statements like they worry about the safety of the pregnant employee. Sometimes the employer does not go out of their way to mask their true intentions. There was such an incident in a wings restaurant chain in the Houston-area. The company’s written policy had asked female workers to leave the job in the third month of their pregnancies.
A federal investigation followed. And the findings suggest that the organization had let go of over eight pregnant employees in the past. The manager reiterated that retaining pregnant employees would pose a major risk to the child’s safety. But such things are valid only in rare cases when the job involves handling toxic chemicals or lifting heavy objects. Courts in such cases have ruled in favor of the woman. And they say that the decision to keep the job is solely dependant on the employee’s decision and her health care practitioner.
Companies Cannot Discriminate Against Pregnant Employees
If you are a woman, you have got to thank Obamacare for this protection. The Affordable Care Act demands employers to offer reasonable breaks to new mothers to pump breast milk for about a year after giving birth to a child.
Employers should also provide a safe place (not a bathroom) for women to do the same. However, rules may not be the same for companies with less than 50 employees, this may cause undue pressure on the company, and they may not be able to provide the kind of space an employee may be looking for to feed her child.
Special Accommodation for Pregnancy-Related Conditions
A normal pregnancy may not require an employer to provide special facilities to the pregnant woman, but in some cases, complications. Women who have complications or temporary problems related to their pregnancy need the same treatment as people with other medical impairments. If a company has a specific policy to provide light assignments for a few months to a worker with certain problems, they may have certain advantages. Other such reasonable accommodations may include, allowing a pregnant employee to sit on a stool rather than stand.
Companies can change the work schedules or keep a water bottle handy while working at a workstation to keep them comfortable. However, to get some reasonable accommodations such as morning sickness, high blood pressure, back pain, gestational diabetes, and more. And in some cases, they may need complete bed rest. In certain exceptions, when a company cannot provide these special privileges, they may have to come up with a solid reason.
A No-Harassment Policy Against Pregnant Women
Harassment is a complete no-no in the workplace. Some people make snide remarks about pregnancy. Comment here, and there does not matter. But repeated insults that reach the level of harassment are completely off the mark.
Proving discrimination is hard but maintaining records can help you in this regard is. Piecing together the discussions you had with your employer and the actions taken against you, will help in this regard. To prove discrimination, you may also have to show, how the organization treats you differently from your colleagues with the same job role and qualification.
And if the evidence works in your favor, your organization will face serious charges, and everyone involved will be liable. While a perfect pregnancy-friendly workplace is still a dream in most parts of the world, we can say for sure that things are changing. Slowly, but surely, we are getting closer to a world where childbirth does not impact a woman’s career!