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Recent case proves pregnancy discrimination is alive and well

Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is an ongoing problem, but seldom is it as blatantly obvious as a recent situation involving a brokerage firm in Florida.

In the case, a woman applied for a position with a Daytona brokerage firm. She went through multiple interviews and the company offered her the job. After receiving the offer, the woman called the company’s hiring coordinator. During the conversation, the woman asked about maternity benefits and said she was pregnant.

Within 30 minutes of the phone call, the hiring coordinator sent the woman an e-mail that said the job offer was being withdrawn because the company needed a long-term hire for the job. The woman filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which then filed a lawsuit on her behalf.

Eventually, the brokerage firm settled with the woman and agreed to pay her $100,000 in damages. The company also agreed in a consent decree to take steps to ensure that pregnancy discrimination wouldn’t happen again. Those measures include creation of a pregnancy policy; education and training for its employees regarding pregnancy discrimination; and posting of the consent decree at the firm.

Signs of pregnancy discrimination

Typically, indications of pregnancy discrimination are much more subtle than the case in Daytona. Here are eight signs of pregnancy discrimination on the job.

  • You’re not being invited to participate in training opportunities that fit your position.
  • You’re not being invited to meetings that you used to be part of on a regular basis.
  • You’re not being included in e-mail discussions that you used to be part of on a regular basis.
  • You don’t receive a pay raise that you were on track to receive
  • Your supervisor is more critical of your work.
  • Your work assignments have been changed due to employer concerns about safety.
  • You’re not allowed to return to work because you are lactating.
  • You’ve been retaliated against because you complained about pregnancy discrimination.

Pregnancy discrimination is illegal

In 1978, Congress passed a law that makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy. Yet, pregnancy discrimination is a persistent problem. In each of the past seven years, for example, the EEOC reports it has resolved more than 3,000 cases. 

The EEOC says discrimination cases occur in a wide range of industries, including financial, legal, retail, hospitality, manufacturing, energy, real estate, health care and education. 

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