New Legislation to Protect Pregnant Working Women

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was introduced to the U.S. Senate in September and, if passed, will provide additional accommodations to employees affected by childbirth and pregnancy. Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) targeted three different companies for the wrongful termination of pregnant women. The EEOC has gone on record saying that pregnancy discrimination is an “emerging issue” in the workplace.

“The EEOC remains concerned about this significant problem; especially that it affects women (and men, when speaking about care giving) in all walks of life, including senior executives, managers, teachers, housekeepers, etc.” says Christine Saah Nazer, the EEOC’s acting director of communications. “The main thing to keep in mind when discussing pregnancy discrimination and care giving issues is that employers should not rely on assumptions and/or stereotypes about an employee’s ability to do a job.”

According to the EEOC, approximately 71 percent of pregnancy discrimination complaints involve a termination. It is unlawful for an employer to terminate a worker because she is pregnant or a mother, but no laws require employers to make special accommodations to pregnant women. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will require companies to make reasonable accommodations.

“Many employers currently encourage or require pregnant workers to take leave—sometimes paid, but sometimes not—as an accommodation of pregnancy and pregnancy-related limitations on the ability to perform the job,” says attorney Lisa Cassilly. “It will be important to recognize that employers must first determine that there is no other reasonable accommodation that would permit the employee to continue working during pregnancy before relying on leave time as a solution.”

Hopefully this legislation will allow pregnant women and mothers to continue working in some capacity with less leave time. Please visit our site for more information on discrimination and contact our firm for a free consultation.

Kelsuk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles discrimination attorneys