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Pregnancy Discrimination in the Middle Tennessee Workplace – A Growing Concern

Imagine this scenario:

A female employee tells her boss at work that she is pregnant.  Her boss fires her after learning the news, even though she is still able to work for several more months.

Sound unbelievable?  Unfortunately, things like this really do happen – right here, in Middle Tennessee.

Cases of women being fired after notifying employers that they are pregnant are all too common.  Known as “pregnancy discrimination,” this form of prejudice occurs when expectant women are fired, not hired, or otherwise discriminated against due to their pregnancy or intention to become pregnant.

Here are a few key facts about pregnancy discrimination:

  • Some 71% of pregnancy discrimination cases involve the allegation that a company terminated a woman’s employment because of her condition.
  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently named pregnancy discrimination in the workplace as an “emerging issue.”
  • Common forms of pregnancy discrimination include not being hired due to visible pregnancy (or likelihood of becoming pregnant), being fired after informing an employer of one’s pregnancy, being fired after maternity leave, and/or receiving a pay dock due to pregnancy.

Every business in Middle Tennessee should be aware of this troubling trend, as well as what’s being done to stop it.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 provides some protection for pregnant women.  The PDA prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.  Under the PDA, a woman affected by pregnancy must be treated the same as other applicants and employees on the basis of their ability or inability to work.  Many argue, however, that the PDA is insufficient, because it does not require any form of accommodation.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, introduced to the Senate this past September, would take things further.  If passed in its current form, it would:

  • Require Middle Tennessee employers to make reasonable accommodations in the workplace for pregnant employees and job applicants, as well as workers who have limitations related to childbirth.
  • Prohibit employers from denying employment opportunities based on the need to make reasonable accommodations, or from requiring an individual to accept an accommodation that they choose not to accept.
  • Finally, the Act would prohibit employers from requiring employees to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided to their known limitations.

If the Act becomes law, it could mean that employers who typically allow for paid or unpaid leave for pregnancy would now be required to seek out other methods of accommodation before pursuing that avenue.  As this proposed legislation continues to evolve, Wood Personnel will keep you abreast of changes which could impact your business.

Wood Personnel’s Cool Springs staffing service can deliver highly skilled, long-term temporary and contract workers to provide the coverage you need during prolonged employee absences.