There are many issues to consider in pregnancy discrimination. The well-being of the child, the well-being of the mother, employer/employee relations, as well as gender issues. There are however several State and Federal laws that protect people against pregnancy discrimination. Two of the Federal laws are the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was an amendment to title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, it is illegal for an employer of 15 or more workers, to discriminate against a person because of pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related conditions. This means that employers must treat pregnancy the same way they treat any other temporary medical disability.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act states:
An employee can't be fired, denied a job, or denied a promotion simply because they are
or may become pregnant.
Pregnancy must be treated like any other employee disability or medical condition.
An employee cannot be forced to take pregnancy leave if they are still willing and able to work.
An employee must be provided the same level of medical benefits, disability insurance and leave as are offered for other medical conditions or disabilities.
A male employee is entitled to health insurance coverage for his wife's pregnancy related conditions if a female employee's husband has comprehensive health insurance coverage.
The other Federal law, the Family and Medical Leave Act gives added protection. The Family and Medical Leave Act went into effect August 5 1993.
It states that:
If a doctor or health care provider says their patient is sick and unable to work during their pregnancy, they may be able to get up to 12 weeks off without pay under this law.
Time off is also allowed for childbirth, adoption, and to care for a sick child or family member.
If someone takes time off under this law, they have the right to the same job or a job with equal pay and benefits when return to work.
The above two laws help prevent pregnancy discrimination, giving employees certain rights and laying down basic rules for employers to follow. The question is then how effective are these laws? And are they an aid or hindrance to business.
The laws seem to be effective, thousands of women a year who are pregnant or new mothers file complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The Federal agency that deals with job discrimination.
Are the laws an aid to Business, that may just be an individual perspective. Some would argue that, Companies should be able to hire and fire as needed? If an employee was hired to do a particular job and can no longer perform that position, the company should not be required to keep that employee! A Company has no obligation to maintain a position for that employee while they are off. And definitely should not be required to bring an employee back at the same rate of pay, even if the employees position has been filled!
Yet others may argue employee loyalty and security improve production. That employee morale and attitude are important to the financial health of the company. Or that employees are the most important resource a company has. And companies are obligate to provide as safe and hazard free environment as possible.
Whatever position one takes the, fact of the matter is that these laws are in place for a reason and they should be abided by. A Company like an individual is responsible to obey the laws of the land. The best one can do is to know the laws as they apply and not be in violation.
With the increase in two working parents, single parent households, and more women entering the workforce there maybe more and more incidents of pregnancy discrimination . The Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Family Medical Leave Act are two Federal laws that set the basic ground rules for how pregnancy and pregnancy leaves are to be handled. Although these laws may not be perfect they help establish requirements both for the employee and employer that hopefully both will use to protect each other as well as themselves.
Word Count: 705