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Study finds that pregnant women face workplace discrimination


New York residents are probably familiar with federal and state laws regarding workplace discrimination based on age, race and gender. Such cases often appear in the news after a lawsuit is filed against an alleged abusive employer or co-worker. Aggrieved employees just want to provide financial support for themselves and their family and the last issue they want to face is to have work disrupted by discrimination related to performing their duties. A frequent form of workplace discrimination that is putting many women at economic risk is pregnancy discrimination.

Based on the latest data released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, pregnancy discrimination is becoming increasingly common, especially in lower wage fields. The data added that such cases are prevalent in manufacturing, administrative support, retail and accommodations and food services industries.

Some pregnant women were forced to take unpaid leave because their employers claimed that they were unable to perform their duties because they are pregnant. For pregnant women, unpaid leave can result in financial challenges, especially if such workers are from low-income families or are the sole wage earner. Employers could accommodate pregnant women by allowing use of equipment that could make their jobs easier and less physical challenging. For example, policies that do not allow women to bring water bottles to their workstations could be exempted because pregnant women need hydration to avoid pregnancy-related illness.

Employment discrimination comes in many forms. New York workers who believe they are experiencing discrimination, such as being subjected to harsher tasks compared to other employees or retaliation, may wish to review their legal options because such mistreatment is punishable according to the law.

Source: Washingtonpost.com, "New statistics: pregnancy discrimination hit low-wage workers hardest," Brigid Schulte, Aug. 5, 2014

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