11:27 am February 16, 2012, by Christopher Seward
Pregnant workers still face the threat of firings and other discriminatory practices despite a federal law against such practices, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and an MSN report.
The EEOC pursued 20 cases last year against employers suspected of discriminating against pregnant workers, one more case than the year before. Claims filed by workers, however, are up about 15 percent from a decade ago and numbered nearly 5,800 last year, the agency says.
MSN cited a $1.64 million settlement that Akal Security Inc. reached with the government in 2010 after claims that the company, the largest provider of contract security services to the federal government, routinely forced pregnant employees working as guards on U.S. military bases to take a leave of absence or discharged them because of their pregnancy.
Discrimination can also include harassing pregnant workers. Low-wage pregnant workers, especially those who have few if any sick days, appear to be the most vulnerable, the report says.
The law states pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. From the EEOC:
If a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer or other covered entity must treat her in the same way as it treats any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, the employer may have to provide light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave to pregnant employees if it does so for other temporarily disabled employees.
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