In June 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released the enforcement guidance regarding pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. The new rules cover current, past, and even potential or intended pregnancies. More than 4 million American women become pregnant each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s vital to review and understand the new pregnancy discrimination rules. For complete list of new rules, see New EEOC Rules
The most familiar form of pregnancy discrimination is discrimination against an employee based on her current or intended pregnancy. Such discrimination occurs when an employer refuses to promote, hire, fire, or takes any other adverse action against a woman because she is pregnant, regardless of her ability to perform the duties of the job. Often discrimination of pregnant women arises from stereotypes and assumptions about their job capabilities and commitment to the job. Employers responsible for taking the adverse action must know about the employee’s pregnancy to be in violation of the rules.
Since 82% of working women continuing to work close to their due dates (Pew Research Centers), most employers will have to deal with the pregnancy-related issues, which often involve other employment laws. An employee has the right to reasonable accommodations to be made by his or her employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if there is a pregnancy-related medical condition meeting the disability requirements under the ADA. For the ADA-related guidelines visit ADA Guidelines
Some states have also mandated their own guidelines for preventing pregnancy discrimination and handling paid or unpaid maternity leave. Illinois is one of these states and its laws are applicable to all Illinois businesses, even those with only one or two employees. Learn more about the Illinois anti-pregnancy discrimination laws at Pregnancy Accommodation Act.
Pregnancy discrimination and harassment laws are often intertwined with the leave issues. Paid or unpaid maternity leave is another point of concern for many. When it comes to maternity leave, a company with 15 or more employees must offer unpaid time off, under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), if the employee has been with the company for a minimum of one year’s time.
Since the birth of the FMLA in 1993, many women believed companies would soon be required to give paid time off for a pregnancy and the birth of child. However, according to the Huffington Post, only 16% of U.S. companies offer paid maternity leave, leaving most families with unpaid leave under the FMLA. This unpaid maternity leave puts many families in a financially difficult position.
With the current implications of unpaid maternity leave and pregnancy discrimination, it’s vital to keep abreast of both federal and state laws. If you have specific questions seek the advice of a lawyer. How to Find a Good Lawyer.
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