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Pregnancy Discrimination Claims On The Rise, EEOC Reports

The Huffington Post  |  Posted: 04/24/2012 4:20 pm Updated: 04/24/2012 5:24 pm

Riseinpregnancydiscrimination

Pregnancy discrimination claims are on the rise, according to new data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In public hearing held Feb. 12, the commission reported that "53,865 charges alleging pregnancy discrimination" had been made over the past 10 fiscal years, amounting to "$150.5 million in monetary benefits for charging parties."

According to the Connecticut Law Tribune, apart from a dip in 2005, pregnancy discrimination claims increased 1 percent every year since 1997, when the EEOC began gathering data on those claims. Discrimination claims come from across industries and at every level of employment.

Pregnant workers and those who have recently given birth are protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which was passed in 1978 and amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to "prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy."

A 2008 report on increasing pregnancy discrimination claims by the Wall Street Journal cited "changing demographics and a new activism among mothers" as a source of the uptick, and pointed out that many employers were still confused about what protections the law provides.

It would appear that four years later, confusion about the law continues to persist among some businesses.

From the Connecticut Law Tribune:

"While employers are well-conditioned and comfortable with the notion that a pregnant employee may assert her leave rights under federal and/or state laws regarding maternity leave, many are not aware that the PDA gives more protections."

The article goes on to outline specific additional protections under the PDA and other federal laws, and points out that employers should also familiarize themselves with state law, which can "trigger legal protections beyond the federal law."

In February, HuffPost reported that $150,000 was awarded to a pregnant woman who was fired from a Milwaukee medical staffing company for taking maternity leave.

LOOK: Stories Of Pregnant Women Who Were Discriminated Against At Work

Jiongqui Ye "Caused An Inconvenience"
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In July 2009, Jiongqui Ye, 36, told her boss, Xio Yu Zhang at the Wongtas printing company in Sydney that she was pregnant and planned to work until Christmas, then take maternity leave. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Zhang told Ye that should would not be paid while she was gone and her position as a clerical worker might not be available upon her return.

Ye then suffered complications during pregnancy and had to take sick leave early. Sadly, she lost her baby. When she returned to work, she was allegedly told she "caused a lot of inconvenience" and was given a new job performing manual labor for less money.

She complained to the Fairwork Ombudsman, and then was fired from her job.

On February 2nd, Justice Dennis Cowdroy found the directors of the company "guilty of grossly breaching its obligations and fined [them] more than $20,000."
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