Fifteen Million Dollars in Damages for Pregnancy Discrimination
In 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) awarded over $15 million in damages for pregnancy discrimination. Here is how to stay out of trouble:
Know the law. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (applies if you have at least 50 employees working in a 75-mile radius) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) (applies if you have 15 more employees) are the two main federal laws that apply to pregnant employees. If you are not covered by these laws, however, before you breathe a sigh of relief, you may be subject to state or local laws. Make sure to also consider protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it is applicable to your pregnant employee. To further understand the rules, consult your outside general counsel.
Put it in writing. Have a written policy in your Handbook. Also, follow your own policy. Sounds simple, but you will be surprise how many businesses fail to follow their own policies.
Be nice, but not too nice. Avoid the temptation to be too helpful and accommodating. Most of women are excited to be pregnant and want to do a good job for you, so do not treat them as a walking lawsuit. Avoid the assumptions that a pregnant woman does not care about her career anymore. It would be illegal to pass over a qualified pregnant woman who has applied for a promotion. Even if you truly believe that such promotion will only bring her extra stress, it would be illegal discrimination to act on it .
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