1.What is the significance of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?
2.Can you share with the class if you, your friend or colleague was pregnant at work and has ever been a target of discrimination?
3.What is the best possible course of action to take when one is the target of pregnancy discrimination?
4.Can a company ever consider pregnancy in its employment decisions? Explain.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) aims at ensuring equal treatment of women who may be unable to perform their job due to pregnancy or complications related to childbirth. The significance of this act is to eliminate discrimination against women due to pregnancy, childbirth, or complications relating to childbirth (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), n.d). The act requires that the employers treat women who experience various medical conditions during pregnancy or childbirth, as they would treat temporarily disabled workers. As such, the employer may have to provide alternative duties, disability leave, light assignments, and leave (paid or unpaid) in the event that medical conditions arise due to pregnancy (EEOC, n.d). The act classifies various conditions that may arise due to pregnancy as disabilities. An example of a condition classified as a disability is gestational diabetes. Generally, the employer should provide reasonable accommodation in the event of pregnancy or medical conditions occurring due to pregnancy or childbirth.
Discrimination based on pregnancy is still rife in the workplace. My friend was forced out of work on flimsy grounds, but the real reason for her termination was childbirth. After her firstborn turned five months, the management decided to fire her. In the period leading to her maternity leave, there were no complaints against her work performance. After resuming from maternity leave, she opted to do work part-time hours, which would culminate into four days a week. After sometime, the management informed her that her position had become redundant. The management had opted to transform her previous role into a full-time thing with new job descriptions. However, all what the company did was to change the name of the position and some aspects of the job description. Everything else was the same – including the role she used to play. The management advised her not to apply for the ‘new’ position.
The best possible course of action to take when facing pregnancy discrimination is to file a lawsuit. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission plays a critical role in filing discrimination-related cases. By filing a lawsuit against the employer, the person who has been discriminated can gain compensation for the loss incurred or a reinstatement back to the company with no conditions (EEOC, n.d). Filing a lawsuit can also force the company to reevaluate its employment policies with regard to pregnancy and related medical conditions. Litigation can help put an end the practice of discrimination based on pregnancy since the management will fear facing legal consequences. This can promote a culture of nondiscrimination based on pregnancy.
A company can consider pregnancy in its employment decisions in limited circumstances, just like under those enumerated under the disability act. In this case, a company can consider pregnancy in its hiring decisions only when the pregnancy would invariably prevent the potential employee from performing her duties and it might not be possible to make the necessary accommodations (U.S. EEOC, n.d). For instance, a company seeking to employ individuals who will undertake heavy lifting of objects may decline to offer a pregnant woman the position since she may not be able to do the lifting. Additionally, it might not be possible to offer any accommodation or lighter duties.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Pregnancy discrimination. Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/pregnancy.cfm