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Federal Employment Protection During Pregnancy

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, provides federal protections for women's choices related to pregnancy, if she works for an employer with more than 15 employees. The protections are against discrimination and harassment, and there are further protections regarding exposure to hazardous working environments during pregnancy.

The PDA, or Pregnancy Discrimination Act, provides for protection against negative employment actions related to pregnancy, intent to get pregnant, and abortion. This means hiring decisions, firing, promotion or demotion decisions or other job actions cannot be made based on these reproductive health issues.

Workplaces must make sure the environment is safe for pregnant women, and these safety precautions include hazardous chemicals, noise, radiation, and heat/cold. However, an employer cannot remove a pregnant women from employment for these safety reasons, but must, if able, provide a different job or a different work environment. The worker cannot be placed on leave for the extent of the pregnancy for these reasons. An employer is expected to make reasonable accommodations.

If the pregnancy is causing difficulty doing the job, employers can offer reasonable workplace accommodations such as sitting rather than standing, breaks, altered work schedules, and work from home options. These changes in the work environment much be accommodations, rather than demotions, and be time-limited. In all instances, the change must not place an undue burden on an employer.

If an employee cannot work during the pregnancy, and paid leave is available, then that leave is allowed, and further unpaid leave can be a workplace accommodation. How the employer uses workplace accommodations for other employees needing assistance or altered work environments, such as those protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, can be used to also offer similar to pregnant employees.

If a pregnant woman is experiencing harassment in the work environment, the employer has a responsibility to stop the harassment. Harassment alone cannot be used as a need for an accommodation in the workplace.

If an employee feels that she has been discriminated against due to pregnancy or reproductive health issues, she can speak first to HR or directly to the EEOC. Employers are prohibited from retaliation against employees for filing an EEOC complaint. The burden of proof rests with the person filing the complaint.

For more information about employment law, please contact us.



Wrongful Retaliation Claims Top EEOC Charges List

Saturday, January 03, 2015

More claims related to wrongful retaliation in the workplace were filed with the federal administration last year, than any other types of claims. In fact, even as the number of discrimination-related claims against employers in the United States drops, the number of wrongful retaliation claims is actually on the increase.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently released data which indicated evidence of this disturbing trend. The data found that 42.8% of the complaints that it received were related to wrongful retaliation. The second most frequent charges were those related to race discrimination, with 35% of the complaints.

Apart from these two, the other most common charges received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were those related to pregnancy and sexual harassment, accounting for 29.3%, disability discrimination accounting for 28.6%, age discrimination accounting for 23.2%, national origin discrimination accounting for 10.8%, and religion-based discrimination accounting for 4%. Apart from these, color-based discrimination accounted for 3.1% for the discrimination-related claims, while discrimination based on violations of the Equal Pay Act, accounted for 1.1% of the discrimination claims.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also admitted that the number of charges filed with the agency actually dropped compared to the recent past.

An employer may decide to retaliate against any employee who files a complaint against him or takes any other kind of legal action against the employer. Such wrongful retaliation can take the form of harassing the employee in the workplace, making it difficult for employees to continue to work, and ultimately forcing the employee to resign. In extreme cases, the employee may also be fired for no valid reason.

If you have recently been terminated from your job or have faced other kinds of harassment and retaliation, speak with a California employment lawyer, and discuss your legal options.




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