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Pregnancy And Caregiving Discrimination in the Workplace

It often takes two incomes to manage a household. When a couple is expecting a child or needs to care for an elderly parent, those two incomes are even more important for the care of the family as a whole.

Two-thirds of women are the primary or co-primary breadwinners in their households, and as more and more mothers want or need to work, pregnancy and caregiving discrimination is a significant problem. In order to highlight the problems facing pregnant women and couples, a recent panel discussed the issue in front of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In a press release, EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien said the agency was committed to preventing caregiving discrimination in all its forms. The panelists identified common forms of pregnancy and caregiving discrimination, citing examples of such discrimination including one pregnant woman who was not allowed to alter her uniform; when it no longer fit, she was forced to temporarily leave the job.

Pregnancy discrimination comes in many forms, including:

  • Making the workplace hostile to pregnant women
  • Subjecting pregnant women to decreased hours or unpaid leave
  • Firing pregnant women because they are pregnant
  • Not giving men time off to care for newborns

Caregivers and expectant parents are protected under federal laws, including through the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The Family Medical Leave Act requires certain employers to grant leave to eligible employees for the birth of a newborn. Employers are also prohibited from singling out female employees for questions about caregiving responsibilities, treating female caregivers less favorably than other employees or basing hiring decisions on current or potential caregiving responsibilities.

Many people balance work and life responsibilities and excel at both. Mothers and fathers should not be discriminated against because of the birth of a newborn or the caretaking of an elderly parent. If you have been the victim of harassment or discrimination because of the need to care for a family member, you may be able to obtain compensation. Contact an experienced employment law attorney to discuss your options.