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7 Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

7 Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

7 Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

7 Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

by Steven I. Azizi 16/09/2021

The 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) in the United States forbids employers from discriminating against pregnant employees in the workplace. The PDA protects pregnant workers from being discriminated against in workplaces with more than 15 workers. Similarly, in the European Union, the Pregnant Workers Directive (PWD) 92/85 protects the rights of women workers during and after pregnancy.

Employers cannot discriminate on the basis of (past, current, or future) pregnancy, childbirth, or a related health condition in any aspect related to pregnant workers’ jobs, including recruitment & dismissal, training, duties, salary, promotion, health insurance, etc. Yes, the PDA in the United States doesn’t just protect pregnant women. It also forbids discrimination on the basis of medical conditions caused by childbirth or pregnancy.

The PDA has been a federal law for over four decades now. Unfortunately, cases of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace continue to pour in. According to reports published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the total number of pregnancy discrimination claims in the United States increased sharply by 65% during 1992-2007 and 50% during 1997-2011. In 2016, the commission reported having received more than three thousand pregnancy discrimination charges.

Such discrimination in the workplace is often under-reported because most women do not understand what constitutes pregnancy discrimination and how to fight it with the help of a pregnancy discrimination attorney. Here in this post, we will look at seven most common examples of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace: 



1. Refusing to hire someone because they are pregnant – or plan to start a family

When a job applicant is pregnant or intends to become pregnant, a company cannot refuse to hire them for such reasons. The PDA also forbids hiring managers from asking job applicants about their childbearing plans.  

Job applicants, however, can ask about the company’s health insurance coverage, maternity leave benefits, and short-term disability coverage. In general, employers cannot make hiring decisions based on whether you are single, married, divorced, have kids, or plan to get pregnant.

Many companies try to justify such discrimination by saying they are only looking to hire someone who can continue working without any interruptions.

Hiring managers may have numerous such biased assumptions about how a female worker will perform during her pregnancy or weeks following childbirth. Hiring decisions made on the basis of such assumptions are illegal.



2. Not Providing Reasonable Accommodations


The employer is required by law to provide reasonable accommodation if a woman is experiencing pregnancy-related complications. If a worker is unable to perform specific tasks due to a medical condition or impairment during pregnancy or after childbirth, employers are bound by law to make reasonable accommodations.

Some common examples of reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees are:

  • Temporarily assigning a light-duty assignment to a pregnant worker who is experiencing back pain
  • Modifying a pregnant employee’s work schedule because she experiences severe morning sickness
  • Moving a pregnant worker’s workstation closer to the restroom
  • Providing a stool or chair at a pregnant worker’s workstation so that she doesn’t have to stand on her feet all the time

In most cases, pregnant workers need to submit a doctor’s note/certificate. Once the medical condition has been documented, employers need to make necessary accommodations.



3. Not Providing a Private Place to Pump Breast Milk 

In the US, companies with at least 50 employees are bound by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – earlier known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – to provide a safe and private place, other than restrooms, to women employees who have been recently pregnant to pump breast milk.

The PDA also considers lactation as a medical condition associated with pregnancy. So, employers cannot discriminate against someone expressing breast milk in the workplace.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) also offers significant protection to nursing mothers. This act makes it mandatory for employers to provide reasonable break time during work shifts to recently-pregnant workers (up to one year after childbirth) to pump breast milk.  However, companies are not required by law to compensate such workers for this time.

Pregnant and recently pregnant workers are offered similar protections in the European Union through Directive 92/85 EEC.



4. Verbal Harassment


Occasional annoying comments in the workplace aren’t illegal. But, if you are subject to jokes, insults, or negative comments that amount to creating a hostile work environment, you may be at the receiving end of ‘illegal’ harassment in the workplace.

Negative comments about how pregnancy is affecting your performance may also constitute illegal harassment.

When in doubt, consider talking to an experienced lawyer specializing in pregnancy discrimination claims.



5. Firing Someone Because They Are Pregnant


Some companies terminate employment contracts of pregnant women. They tend to assume that a pregnant worker wouldn’t be able to complete her tasks or the new baby would interfere with an employee’s work routine.

Some employers may even have the notion that a particular job (e.g. lifting heavy objects in a warehouse) is not suitable for a pregnant woman.  

Employers cannot discriminate like this even if they wholeheartedly believe that the decision is in the best interest of the pregnant worker. It is up to the employee or her physician to make a decision on what’s best for her.



6. Not Considering a Pregnant Employee for Promotion


Some people like to think that a woman won’t be fully committed to a senior position once she has had a child. Regardless of the kind of stereotypes they want to hold on to in the 21st century, employers cannot refuse to promote an employee just because she recently gave birth to a child.

It is also illegal to ask workers to take some time off due to past or current pregnancy. Reassigning a worker during pregnancy or after childbirth may also be illegal if it’s against their wishes.



7. Retaliation for Filing a Discrimination Claim


Retaliation against an employee just because she filed a pregnancy discrimination claim, is among the most common forms of discrimination according to the EEOC.

After an employee files a discrimination charge, she may start getting poor performance reviews. Some companies may even fire, demote or verbally harass the employee.

Such retaliation against pregnant or recently-pregnant employees is illegal. Documenting such incidents or collecting relevant evidence can help you strengthen your case against the employer. 

by Steven I. Azizi 16/09/2021

Steven is the Senior Partner and co-founder of Miracle Mile Law Group. Steven always knew his calling involved helping ordinary people, not corporations, so he started Miracle Mile Law Group, where he exclusively represents employees in claims against their employers.

Steven A. Izizi, Esq.

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6 Actionable Tips for Increasing Employee  Satisfaction

6 Actionable Tips for Increasing Employee Satisfaction

6 Actionable Tips for Increasing Employee Satisfaction

6 Actionable Tips for Increasing Employee Satisfaction

by Heather Redding 26/08/2020

Employee satisfaction is an essential aspect of every organization. A satisfied employee will always put their best foot forward to ensure the company’s productivity levels are high.

Getting your employees to be satisfied with their jobs is not just about salary bumps; it means making long term cultural shifts that will leave the employees feeling much valued.

When you meet your employees’ needs, they’ll develop a positive outlook towards the company and its goals. You don’t want them to feel unhappy and dissatisfied because when this happens, they’ll lose their motivation and underperform. 

Increased job satisfaction can impact your business or organization in many positive ways. 


Benefits of Increasing Employee Satisfaction


Increased employee satisfaction is a significant determining factor in your business’s overall productivity, success, and growth. As an entrepreneur or personnel manager, you should focus on strategies that will boost employee satisfaction and result in a productive workforce that drives business success.

Some of the benefits you’ll reap from increased job satisfaction include:

  •  Improved business productivity
  •  High bottom line profits
  •  Low employee turnover
  • Reduced recruitment costs
  • Ability to attract and retain talent
  • Satisfactory customer service

There’s quite a lot to gain from boosting your employee satisfaction. All you need are actionable tips to turn your employees’ morale around and grab your ticket to great business success. 


How to Increase Employee Satisfaction


It may be a daunting task to measure and improve job satisfaction. But with these actionable tips, you’ll be sure to recognize the positive difference in your employees’ performance, implying that they are happy and content with their roles. 


1. Provide a Positive Working Environment


Having a positive working environment will significantly influence the way your employees feel. It can keep them motivated throughout their working hours and will reflect in their performance. 

A positive environment is not just about the organizational structure but includes the overall experience shared between your employees and their colleagues, immediate bosses, and the company culture.

 You can establish a positive working environment for your workforce by:

  •  Having open communication with them
  •  Establishing healthy working relationships
  •  Listening to them and promoting equal opportunities
  • Building trust with, and among them 


2. Streamline boring tasks


Sometimes you’ll need to identify the low-performing areas and find out what is causing it. It is likely that low performing areas happen because of over-complicated processes, or redundant and monotonous tasks. 

Combine data entry with unreliable tech, and you get disengaged employees.

Not to say that data entry is useless, on the contrary. For example, tracking company inventory or reviewing valuable assets can affect both the profit and resource allocation.

However, once you understand the cause of disengagement, you can implement solutions to streamline such processes and make them less tedious. Employees can do their job faster and more effectively, and later direct their focus on more creative and fulfilling tasks. 

Within no time, you’ll witness an improvement in employee performance. 


3. Collect and Provide Proper Feedback


Getting and providing proper feedback helps your employees to grow. To them, receiving feedback from their superiors is vital to their satisfaction. 

Without feedback, they’ll remain unsure about the effort and work they’re putting in. 

You should always be keen on collecting and providing feedback regularly. Feedback will not only enable you to address problem areas but also help you build trust and keep your employees motivated and satisfied.

Your employees get a high sense of satisfaction when you, their leader, listens and immediately acts on feedback. Your positive, genuine intent and constructive response will make them feel valued at the workplace. It also shows professionalism and equality. 


4. Develop Your Employees’ Skills


Allowing your employees to develop their skills through additional training can improve their efficiency and boost their motivation. The employees’ job satisfaction will increase, knowing that you care about their growth and career development.

Employees always look forward to having an opportunity to learn new skills or upgrade their existing ones. 

A training program will give them the chance to acquire knowledge that will increase their work efficiency, help them grow, and boost the company’s productivity. 

You can invest in them by offering training, mentorship, upskilling, or mentorship opportunities. Giving them a chance to grow and advance in your organization will make them happy and satisfied. 


5. Prioritize Employees’ Health and Wellness


Employee health and wellness are critical to both the workers and the company. The sedentary nature of life in the office can affect one’s health and cause depressed moods, lack of morale, and employee dissatisfaction. 

To boost their job satisfaction, you can offer them flexible working hours, consulting, wellness programs, or even allow them to work at home when they request. It can also pay to give them some time off for leisure and relaxation.

Health and wellness programs are very educational. 

They can help employees learn better ways of living a healthy lifestyle and relieving work-related stress associated with increased health issues. High blood pressure, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, and hypertension are just some of the consequences of work-related stress. 

A program to educate them on these health issues, make healthy food choices, set fitness goals can go a long way to fostering their health. When your employees are healthy, they’ll be focused, productive, and satisfied. 


6. Celebrate Achievements


Employees feel valued when you appreciate their efforts. You can celebrate your employees’ contributions to the company’s milestones and goal achievements to make them feel valued as part of the success team. 

There are plenty of ways to make your employees feel appreciated and recognize their commitment. You can celebrate work anniversaries with them, praise them in meetings, organize an office party, reward them with gift vouchers, send them on vacation, and so much more.

When you recognize and acknowledge your employees for their input, their productivity, morale, and overall job satisfaction will increase. It energizes them to strive to improve even further and outdo themselves. 

Let them know that you recognize their efforts. Motivate them for their achievements to create a shared sense of accountability and accomplishment. 



Final Thoughts


As a company or department head, going the extra mile to increase job satisfaction for your workforce requires you to know your employees well. This way, you’ll be able to influence their happiness and make them work hard towards the bottom line. 

With just a few actionable tips, you can improve employee satisfaction and reap long-term rewards.


by Heather Redding 26/08/2020

Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library with a hot cup of coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.

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