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Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

According to the EEOC, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, pregnant
employees or potential employees cannot be treated unfavorably because
of the pregnancy. According to the EEOC, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, pregnant employees or potential employees cannot be treated unfavorably because of the pregnancy. Unfavorable treatment is considered unlawful and can be prosecuted in a court of law. Laws are in place to protect pregnant women from discrimination in the workplace, but in some cases what appears to be discrimination may be just the opposite.

Work Situations and Pregnancy Discrimination
Pregnancy discrimination laws in the workplace prevent employers from discriminating against pregnant employees in terms of promotions, training and assignments, but the law does not supersede medical advice. If a promotion, training or assignment could prove dangerous to the fetus and pregnancy, the employer may have a legal reason to pass over a pregnant employee. For instance, if a pregnant employee applies for a promotion that requires working with harmful chemicals, the employee would be unable to perform the duties of the job and thus may not be hired. If pregnancy comes into question in terms of job promotion or performing duties that may be dangerous to the fetus, the employer may request medical clearance to perform certain duties.

According to pregnancy laws, pregnant women in the workplace should be treated as a temporarily disabled employee. This does not, however, mean the employer is required to hire or promote a pregnant employee who cannot perform the duties of a specific job. But, laws also prevent employers from denying employment based solely upon pregnancy if the potential employee is able to safely perform job duties.

Fringe Benefits and Pregnancy Discrimination

If an employer offers fringe benefits to employees on any type of leave, those same fringe benefits must be extended to women on pregnancy leave, including leave for medical conditions attributed to pregnancy or pregnancy complications. For instance, accrual of vacation time increases in pay rate and disability benefits should be offered fairly to all employees on leave, no matter the reason for the leave.

Pregnancy discrimination happens in the workplace, but laws are in place to prevent women from being denied reasonable accommodation and treatment based solely upon pregnancy. When in doubt, women should refer to the Family Medical Leave Act and rules as assigned by the EEOC if they feel they are the victim of pregnancy discrimination. The human resources department of your company should have copies of the Family Medical Leave Act available upon request. All guidelines are also posted on the official website for FMLA.

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