Pregnancy discrimination cases have reached record levels

For two decades, complaints filed by women alleging pregnancy discrimination at work have increased. Complaints have reached their highest level yet, which demonstrates the extent of the problem and growing awareness among women in Arizona about their legal rights. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 applies to employers who have at least 15 employees. The law prohibits discrimination because of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The hiring process falls under the purview of these protections as well.

Despite the presence of the law, many employers routinely mistreat pregnant employees and mothers. Multiple studies have documented the pay losses experienced by women following the birth of children. Statistically, each additional birth reduces hourly wages for women by 4 percent. A law professor described it as the maternal wall, and it generally affects women's careers before the glass ceiling creates a barrier.

Many large companies pass over expecting mothers for promotions, and if they come back to work from maternity leave, they often face dismissal if they complain about mistreatment. Other examples of discrimination include denying pregnant women extra bathroom breaks or insisting that they continue to lift heavy loads. These actions violate the law, which states that pregnant people should be accommodated like temporarily disabled employees.

Pregnancy discrimination represents one form of workplace discrimination. A person treated unfairly at work or denied work because of pregnancy, childbirth, race, age, sex, disability or religion could discuss the problem with an attorney. After evaluating the case, an attorney might prepare a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and communicate the complaint to the employer. During the ensuing discussions about a settlement, an attorney may advocate for the person's needs. If the employer denies wrongdoing, then an attorney might present the case in court.

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