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Pregnancy and job discrimination

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), discrimination by employers against pregnant women has been prevalent and has resulted in more than $150 million in damages awarded. Despite the Pregnancy Discrimination Act being passed in 1978, such employment discrimination continues among all classes and especially among low-income women. It also occurs in every state including Indiana.

Such discrimination recently made national news when a federal judge ruled against a pregnant woman fired from her job after the woman made an accommodation request to her employer for a location to pump her breast milk. Currently, the EEOC is contemplating appealing this ruling.

Pregnancy is considered a temporary disabling condition, and thus pregnant women are entitled to the same employment rights as other individuals that are temporarily disabled. Unfortunately, there are overlapping and sometime conflicting federal laws that cause confusion as to how employment disputes related to pregnant women should be handled. The EEOC hopes to provide clearer standards as to how such cases should be handled in the future.

Especially when the guidelines are unclear, pregnant women in the middle of an employment dispute or who feel that they have been the victim of discrimination would be highly advised to seek the counsel of an attorney experienced in handling employment discrimination cases. Such legal counsel can best advise the woman as to what would be the best approach in handling such a matter. Though the laws may be unclear, counsel may be able to propose an equitable remedy that would appease the employer and satisfy the court.

No employee should ever be forced to choose between holding onto their job and raising a family. Any decent employer will allow for an employee to pursue their career and have time to spend with their family.

Source: Reuters, "Working pregnant women face rampant discrimination: agency," by Ian Simpson, Feb. 15, 2012

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