Right now, more mothers are joining the workforce than any time in history. In addition, there is a growing trend of friendlier office policies geared toward families in general and mothers in particular. Why then are there still an alarming amount of cases where pregnant women report enduring discrimination and unfair treatment? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has collected a gradually increasing number of pregnancy discrimination claims over the years, and officials say the number is approaching a record high.
The New York Times delved into the issue recently and discovered an unsettling pattern of discrimination that still flows beneath the surface, even at large and reputable companies. Big names on the list include Walmart, Whole Foods, AT&T, and 21st Century Fox, all of which, as the article pointed out, have grand statements about being champions of women in their communications.
Women in all kinds of careers have anecdotes to share. Our employment attorneys know labor jobs can often have more blatant discrimination. Examples include refusals to allow pregnant women accommodations they need to complete their work, no leniency for breaks, refusal to adjust demands due to physical limitations, and series of micro-aggressions, like not allowing them to have water on the work floor.
In corporate America, discrimination might look a bit different, with pregnant women and new mothers facing barriers to promotions and being excluded from opportunities that would advance their careers. There is a widespread perception that by starting a family, women might not be as committed to their careers. It’s possible for some to prove their dedication, but sometimes it takes years to shake the stigma, and by then mothers have already fallen behind on their career tracks. Women have cited flexibility as an important step to keeping women in the workforce after they start their families. What many do not realize, however, is that flexibility can come with a hefty price tag for their long-term career growth. Studies from sources such as the Census Bureau and University of Massachusetts show women’s salaries falter after having children, while men see significant spikes. For the one in four women who are raising children on their own, this stalled growth in their own success is particularly damning.
Sex discrimination is much more far reaching than the obvious cases of sexual harassment or the classic examples of “good old boys clubs” that systematically leave women out of opportunities for advancement. It also applies to situations that are unique to women, such as needs regarding pregnancy. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was added in 1978 as an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It emphasized that cases of discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions related to either are considered forms of sex discrimination and are illegal.
Employers have become adept at pointing to reasons other than pregnancy for why women might be held back or worse, fired. Employers could even be genuinely well meaning in their actions, passing women up for a promotion or a big project because they do not want to overburden a new mother or think they are helping by letting her focus on her family. If these actions are against your wishes and are impacting your career negatively, they are still discrimination. That’s why it’s so important to immediately contact a skilled Orange County pregnancy discrimination lawyer if you have experienced anything like this on the job. We can do the hard work of exposing where discrimination exists and protect your rights.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
7 Facts About U.S. Moms, May 10, 2018, By Gretchen Livingston and Kristin Bialik, Pew Research Center
More Blog Entries:
Pregnancy Discrimination Alleged by Certified Nursing Assistants, March 22, 2018, Orange County Employment Lawyers Blog