Pregnancy discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination occurs when expectant mothers are fired, not hired, or otherwise discriminated against due to their pregnancy or intention to become pregnant. Common forms of pregnancy discrimination include not being hired due to visible pregnancy or likelihood of becoming pregnant, being fired after informing an employer of one’s pregnancy, being fired after maternity leave, and receiving a pay dock due to pregnancy. In the United States, since 1978, employers are legally bound to provide what insurance, leave pay, and additional support that would be bestowed upon any employee with medical leave or disability. This only applies to companies with 15 or more employees (including part-time and temporary workers).

Employers may be likely to discriminate if they hold prejudices against working women and mothers, fear the productivity loss due to the absence of an employee, are unable to use temporary employees, are unable to afford overtime pay for other employees to fulfill the duties during leave, or believe that the employee will require too many accommodations even after her return.

With more than 70% of women with children in the work force, pregnancy discrimination is the fastest growing type of discrimination in the U.S., and in 2006 represented approximately 6.5% of all discrimination claims filed. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission mediates claims betweens employees and employers. In 2006, the EEOC handled 4,901 claims with an eventual monetary pay-out by various organizations totaling $10.4 million.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

In 1978, the U.S. Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (P.L. 95-555), an amendment to the sex discrimination section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 2002, California's Paid Family Leave (PFL) insurance program, also known as the Family Temporary Disability Insurance (FTDI) program, extended unemployment disability compensation to cover individuals who take time off work to bond with a new minor child. PFL covers employees who take time off to bond with their own child or their registered domestic partner's child, or a child placed for adoption or foster-care with them or their domestic partner.

Historical perspective

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act and [ Family and Medical Leave Act] are rooted in several major court decisions leading up to them.

In the 1908 case Muller vs. Oregon the Supreme Court upheld a decision limiting women to 10 hour workdays based on the idea that "performance of maternal functions" made women inherently incapable of the same work that men did.

In the 1950s and 1960s laws in several states prohibited women from working and banned their hiring for some length of time before and after birth.

In 1971 Reed v. Reed became the first Supreme Court decision to invoke the [ Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment] to protect women from discrimination on the basis of sex.

Two major cases in the 70s appear to be directly responsible for the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The first, Geduldig vs. Aiello (1974), ruled that the exclusion of medical benefits for pregnant women in California by the California State Disability Insurance program was non-discriminatory.

“While it is true that only women can become pregnant…the [California State Disability Insurance] program divides potential recipients into two groups- pregnant women and nonpregnant persons. While the first group is exclusively female, the second group includes members of both sexes. The fiscal and actuarial benefits of the program thus accrue to members of both sexes.” -From Geduldig vs. Aiello

In 1976 "General Electric v. Gilbert", [ 429 U.S. 125] , set a similar precedent for private insurance through an employer.

The uproar from these two decisions appears to have directly fueled the creation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act by Congress.

In other countries outside the U.S., pregnancy discrimination has received an amount of attention and pressure to outlaw the practice. Canada, Mexico, the European Union, Japan and other countries passed similar legislation to prohibit pregnancy discrimination in the 1970s and 1980's. Canadian law puts a heavy fine on companies if they are found to have committed acts of pregnancy discrimination.

External links

* [ National Partnership for Women & Families]
* [ The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission]
* [,,4rsg,00.html/ Pregnancy and Work from iVillage]
* [ Civil Rights Act of 1964]
* [ Family and Medical Leave Act]

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