Discrimination of Pregnant Women in the Workforce

Discrimination of Pregnant Women in the Workforce

Abstract
According to Armour,(2005),’’The surge in pregnancy complaint make one of the fastest -growing type of employment discrimination charges filed with the EEOCoutpacing the rise in sexual harassment and sex discrimination ‘’( p.7). Data collected by Employment lawyers ( 2005) ,showed that ,’’ in many cases, employers are simply making honest mistakes as they try to understand a variety of federal and state laws governing issues such as pregnancy discrimination and family leave. And they say it's easy to overlook the very real costs of pregnancy to small employers, who may see productivity suffer
But a data collected from pregnant women(2005),” claim they've been unfairly fired ,denied promotions and in some cases urged to terminate pregnancies in order to keep their jobs.’’ The Department of Labor ,(2005), argued that‘’ the rise in pregnancy discrimination cases is important now because more women of child-bearing age are in the labor force: Women make up about 47% of the total labor force, and they're projected to account for more than half of the increase in total labor force growth from 2002 until 2012.

Discrimination is the number one problem pregnant women are facing in the work place dispute the passage of the pregnancy discrimination act that prohibits such practice. The number of women claiming they've been discriminated against on the job because they're pregnant is soaring and it is a huge burden for many employers and the situation need to be address correctly . Women make up about nearly 50 percent of the work force in this country .

What is the pregnancy discrimination act?’’ The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the federal agency responsible for issuing regulations to implement the Act .’’ ‘’The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments, from discriminating against you because of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions . An employer cannot refuse to hire a woman because of her pregnancy or related condition as long as she can perform the major functions of her job. Women who are pregnant or affected by related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations. Pregnant workers cannot be forced to take leave while they are pregnant as long as they are able to perform their jobs .’’

According to a recent analysis of government data by the Washington-based National Partnership for Women & Families (2005), showed that ‘’Pregnancy discrimination complaints filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) jumped 39% from fiscal year 1992 to 2003, that same time, the nation's birthrate dropped 9 %. ’’ According to Armour (2005),‘’The surge in pregnancy complaint make one of the fastest -growing type of employment discrimination charges filed with the EEOC outpacing the rise in sexual harassment and sex discrimination .The charges are coming from a range of women, from those in entry-level jobs as well as those in executive suites. Well-known employers that have faced pregnancy-discrimination lawsuits include Wal-Mart, Hooters and Cincinnati Bell.’’ (p.7 ).

Data collected from employment lawyers (2005), maintained that,’’ in many cases, employers are simply making honest mistakes as they try to understand a variety of federal and state laws governing issues such as pregnancy discrimination and family leave. And they say it's easy to overlook the very real costs of pregnancy to small employers, who may see productivity suffer significantly when women take time off after having a baby.’’(p.7)
But a data collected from pregnant women (2005),’’ claim they've been unfairly fired denied promotions and in some cases urged to terminate pregnancies in order to keep their jobs.’’ According to Marilyn Pickler, 23, of Mesa, Arizona .(2005) ‘’she was working for auto dealership Berge Ford when she told a manager about her pregnancy. About a week later, she says, supervisors told her she was being fired. They told her they were concerned that it would Key not be safe for her to drive, which was part of her job, while she was pregnant, according to the lawsuit ’’.(p,9)
"I burst into tears," Pickler says. "They thought I was not going to be able to do my job. They thought I would throw up or have a cramp. But pregnant women work every day. It just wasn't fair."

According to the same article of the USA TODAY (2005), ‘’the EEOC filed a lawsuit on Pickler's behalf, and the case was settled out of court for $70,000. Her son, Jesse, is 3, and Pickler, who is now a stay-at-home mom, is pregnant again.’’ (p.7). According to the Department of Labor (2005 ) ‘’The rise in pregnancy discrimination cases is important now because more women of child-bearing age are in the labor force: Women make up about 47% of the total labor force, and they're projected to account for more than half of the increase in total labor force growth from 2002 until 2012”
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2002), confirmed that’’ more working women are having children at a later age, when careers are better established and more is financially at stake. In 2000, the average American woman having her first child was almost 25 years old. In 1970, the average age was 21.4 years for a first birth,”

Karpatkin of legal momentum (2010), stated that “Pregnancy discrimination cases also are costing companies more money. In fiscal year 2003, the EEOC and state and local agencies collected $12.4 million from charges of pregnancy discrimination (that amount excludes any awards obtained through lawsuits), vs. $3.7 million collected in 1992. Money may also come from other sources, such as conciliation agreements with employers and benefits obtained through mediation .The length of time it takes a case to come to trial or settle can vary. Some cases are resolved within a year; some may drag on in the courts for a number of years.”(p.4 ). O'Neill, a regional lawyer with the EEOC (2010), said "We've seen an explosion, a huge
increase in cases ". "The kind of cases we're seeing are very blatant, cases where managers say, 'We don't want pregnant women working here " (p.6).
Several factors may be behind trend why so many lawsuits are brought against employers. Michael Lotito (2005) maintained that ‘’part of the increase in discrimination claims could be coming simply because employers are making honest mistakes or are confused by conflicting laws. Many states have protections for pregnant women that go beyond the federal law.

For example, they may mandate that pregnant women be allowed to get some paid time off through employee payroll taxes. Federal law allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave. More pregnant women are staying in the workplace rather than going on early leave. More women are working while pregnant, and they're working further into their pregnancies” (p.8). According to legal experts (2005),’’ Generally , under current federal law, an employer shouldn't ask job applicants if they are pregnant; a job seeker also is not required to inform an employer of her pregnancy. An employer also can't force a pregnant woman to take time off during her pregnancy or force her to quit because of fears the work may be hazardous to her or her fetus. Employees who go on maternity leave must generally get the same treatment as other employees with disabilities or time off.’’(p.5). But for Susan Kenna, 38, (2004) “says her employer didn't make accommodations for her when she became pregnant with triplets. She says managers cut her pay after she needed to go on bed rest, and she says she was cut out of meetings before being put on bed rest and generally pressured to quit. She was on bed rest for one week.(p.7).

In the same newsweek article (2004) Kenna, who worked as a director at Gitto/Global Corp., went into early labor on Sept. 28, 2001, and her triplets died shortly after birth. She says in a lawsuit filed last year against her employer that stress over discrimination played a role in triggering the early births.(p,12). "I believe the stress caused my pre-term labor, and I filed a lawsuit because I didn't want my children to die in vain," says Kenna, of Sterling, Mass., who is now the mother of 2-year-old twin girls and a son who is just over 2 months old. "A lot of people at companies are getting away with this, and they have to be called on their bad behavior ." According to the National Partnership for Women & Families analysis of government data (2005) ‘’In the decade before the 1978 passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, more than half of employed women quit their jobs when they became pregnant’’. The non-profit education and advocacy group (2005 )’’ also found that by the early 1990s, that number dropped to 27% of pregnant women ’’.
Roberta Carlton (2005), responded ‘’she's seen it firsthand. When she was working as a manager at a software company, she says she wanted to hire a woman who had just had a baby. She says her boss said the job applicant was a new parent and wouldn't be able to put in the hours. What the boss didn't know was that Carlton was three months pregnant at the time.’’(p,7 ).

Discussion
Veronica Duffy, an employment lawyer in Rapid City, S.D. (2005) argued that "Pregnancy is expensive for employers," who has represented pregnant women filing discrimination claims. "And as health insurance costs rise, costs become more of an issue. Employers are driven to discriminate."(p.6).
Mounting research (2005) showed that’’ women who become pregnant are viewed as less competent in the workplace — a view that is held by both male and female co-workers ’’ The Journal of Organizational Behavior published one study in (1993 ) ‘’for pregnant and non-pregnant women performed tasks that were rated by college students drafted for the research. While both subjects performed the same, those who were pregnant consistently received lower performance ratings. They were viewed as overly emotional, often irrational, physically limited and less than committed to their jobs, according to the report .’’ According to another study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology (1997 ) ‘’ pregnant women were interviewed about their own experiences on the job. About half said their supervisors' reactions to their pregnancies were negative. They also reported intrusive comments from co-workers, including such comments as, "Why are you eating so much?" and, "Do you have stretch marks yet?" About half of pregnant women managers said subordinates became upset or hostile.’’(p7).

Carlton, 39 (2005) concluded "You wonder how many women deal with this," who went on maternity leave and was later laid off. She now is a vice president at a public relations firm in Lexington, Mass. "I thought pregnancy was something people were educated about. I hadn't realized anything that blatant hap pened anymore."(p,8), Many Employers have concerns or are unfamiliar with women pregnancy law. But employment lawyers (2005), ‘’also point out that there are some valid concerns for companies. Small employers can be especially hard hit if they have a large number of women who go out on maternity leave productivity can suffer, and there can be extra work for co-workers who are forced to pick up the slack .Employers can also wind up in a bind if they hire a woman who goes on maternity leave during a critical time, such as a tax-preparation firm that loses a woman to leave during April, when demand is at its peak .’’ Michael Lotito, a San Francisco-based employment lawyer.(2005),argued that ‘’It can create an enormous challenge for a small organization," He says employers can also feel unable to take disciplinary action against a pregnant employee who isn't performing ‘’(p,8)
Employers of pregnant women need to make sure that they understand all the laws regarding the right of pregnant women, and know how to handle a problem involving pregnant women correctly and properly, that will minimize unnecessary lawsuits and fights.

They need to keep in mind that a pregnant woman can still accomplish many tasks contrary to the stereotype. Employers and co-workers of pregnant women need to stop all kind of stereotypes and prejudices they need to be supportive and helpful thru the time of pregnancy. The pregnant women deserve to be treat with respect and dignity.

References

Chad Bray.(2010) Citigroup Is Sued for Discrimination, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Jessica Bennett & Jesse Ellison.(2010) .Why Women Need the Paycheck Fairness Act, Newsweek .p10-12
Michelle Caiola & Deborah Karpatkin.(2010) . Airline's Policy on Pregnant Women Found discriminatory . Diversity Inc, Legal momentum.
Stephanie Armour.(2005). Pregnant workers report growing discrimination USA TODAY,p6-7