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Pregnancy and caregiving discrimination

In a recent meeting, the EEOC stated that is will aggressively pursue complaints of discrimination against pregnant women and caregivers. Indiana individuals will be happy to know that this applies not only to current employees, but job applicants as well.

As you know, there is a natural tendency to immediately think about the fact that a pregnant woman will be taking at least some time off of work in the near future -- sometimes long before vacation time would otherwise be earned. However, woman should not be discriminated against in the workplace based on the anticipation of a female's maternity leave or caregiving responsibilities.

Even so, the potential for discrimination in the work place exists. Caregivers who have to divide their time between work tasks and family obligations are identified as one group that typically faces discrimination issues. An employee who has to leave at a certain time each day in order to pick up children from daycare may be treated differently than the employee that does not have care giving obligations outside of normal business hours. And some employers may be tempted to give assignments to an employee with no family obligations, regardless of whether they are truly qualified to do the task. Other issues arise when employers are accused of not giving care givers the flexibility to leave work for a family obligation.

These matters are just some of the issues that the EEOC says it has put at the top of its list. The EEOC has expressed concerns that pregnant women and caregivers, who both want and need to be in the work force during these hard economic times, are not being given the same opportunities as everyone else. In light of the apparent current focus of the EEOC, employers may benefit from ensuring that their policies are in line with EEOC guidelines as they continue to strive to treat employees fairly and free of discrimination while operating their business successfully.

Source: HR.BLR.com, "Discrimination against pregnant employees, caregivers still tops EEOC's list," July 17, 2012

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