Error Omissions
Error Omissions
Submit your information below so we can contact you with a FREE quote
[All fields are required.]
Actual Annual Revenue:
Verify:
=
I have read and agreed to theTerms & Conditions
Error Omissions
Error Omissions

EEOC and New Legislation Focuses on Pregnant Employees and Discrimination


EEOC and New Legislation Focuses on Pregnant Employees and DiscriminationReview of Company Policies, Employment Practices Liability Insurance Key

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has made it clear to employers that its goal is to continue to proactively focus on discrimination allegations, including those related to pregnancy. When it first made the announcement back in 2012, it immediately filed four high-profile pregnancy discrimination cases. In fact, the EEOC for 2012 recovered more than $14 million in settlements involving such cases. And the agency’s efforts continue. More recently, New York District Director, Kevin Berry, announced in a press release related to a specific case that the EEOC “will continue to take vigorous actions to remedy discrimination against pregnant applicants and employees.” In the case Berry referenced, the claim alleges that a furnishing and architectural store in Manhattan, “unlawfully refused to hire an applicant as a full-time controller after it found out that she was pregnant”.

Furthermore according to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), over the last 10 years, the number of claims with the EEOC that have been made by pregnant employees has risen by nearly 50%. In the majority of cases, the women have alleged that their employers denied them reasonable accommodations, such as bathroom breaks, periodic rest breaks, breaks to facilitate increased water intake, less strenuous or hazardous work, and leave before and/or after childbirth.

What’s the Law?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which was passed more than 35 years ago, “forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.” Moreover, “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.” This means that an employer may have to offer light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave to pregnant employees if it does so for other temporarily disabled employees, according to the EEOC.

In addition, impairments resulting from pregnancy (such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, a condition characterized by pregnancy-induced hypertension and protein in the urine) may be considered disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An employer may have to provide a reasonable accommodation (such as leave or modifications that enable an employee to perform her job) for a disability related to pregnancy, absent undue hardship (significant difficulty or expense).

You also have the Family Leave Act, which stipulates that an employee can take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons up to twelve weeks in a 12-month period, including for the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth. And, under the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), “employers are required to provide a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”

New Legislation Introduced

Even with all the existing legislation, some feel that it isn’t enough to prevent pregnant women from facing discrimination in the workplace. As a result, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was introduced in Congress. This legislation is designed to strengthen the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and prevent employers from forcing pregnant workers to leave their jobs and helping to ensure employers provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women who want to continue working. There are also new state and local laws being passed to protect pregnant workers. For example, in January, New Jersey’s Governor Christie signed a pregnancy discrimination bill requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to such workers, absent certain exceptions. There are other states that also have laws addressing pregnancy discrimination, including Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, and Texas.

Review Your Company’s Discrimination Policies, Insurance

It’s evident with the continued pursuit by the EEOC of pregnancy discrimination claims, and the introduction of both federal and state legislation to provide further protections under the law, that this is an important issue for employers to address. This includes evaluating company policies and procedures, employee handbook, management training, etc., to see where practices can be strengthened to ensure that pregnant employees are treated the same as other similarly situated non-pregnant employees. It also means ensuring that you have Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) in place in the event of an alleged discrimination case. EPLI helps with legal costs, damage awards and out-of-court settlements related to covered employment practices claims. Those can include allegations of harassment and discrimination, wrongful termination, wage and hour disputes, and multiple types of workplace misconduct.

Axis Insurance Services specializes in providing Employment Practices Liability coverage to a broad range of industries. We can not only help you with securing the proper insurance coverage but also with reviewing you company practices and policies to help minimize the potential for claims. Please give us a call at phone at (877) 787-5258.

Sources: EEOC, Baker Hostetler, MONDAQ, Huffington Post, DOJ

Comments

comments

Blogged on: March 12, 2014 by Mike Smith
Error Omissions
Error Omissions
Submit your information below so we can contact you with a FREE quote
[All fields are required.]
Actual Annual Revenue:
Verify:
=
I have read and agreed to theTerms & Conditions
Error Omissions
Error Omissions