It is not uncommon for female employees in Minnesota and other states in the nation to become pregnant at some point during their careers. Although employee pregnancy frequently occurs, some pregnant woman still experience mistreatment due to their pregnancy. In addition, some pregnant women might be pressured to return to work right away, causing them to not fully exercise their maternity rights. Pregnant women who experience a hostile work environment or are mistreated due to their pregnancy should understand their rights and options in the situation.

Although laws were recently altered and strengthened in order to reduce occurrences of pregnancy discrimination, this type of employment discrimination still occurs today. In fact, this past summer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission put out new guidelines in order to educate employers that failing to give reasonable accommodation to pregnant employees is against federal law.

This is the first time in more than 30 years that the EEOC has issued new guidelines for this form of employment discrimination, and these new guidelines were promulgated with the intention to clarify federal laws that have been confusing at times. Moreover, the courts have interpreted these laws in different ways, and changing the guidelines should help to make matters more straightforward.

Because pregnant women were not always receiving reasonable work accommodations or modified work duties, it is clear that pregnancy discrimination is still a problem in the workplace. Even with these new guidelines, at least one EEOC official has said that much could still be done to bring about the fair and equal treatment of pregnant workers.

The new guidelines could provide more options and rights for pregnant workers. Those experiencing mistreatment or discrimination due to their pregnant condition or medical issues related to pregnancy could file a claim for the damages suffered in the situation. In these matters, it is important employees understand their legal rights and remedies so they can take appropriate and timely action.

Source: The Washington Post, “EEOC to employers: Stop discriminating against pregnant workers,” Brigid Schulte and Nia-Malika Henderson, July 15, 2014