Wall Street Journal (02/16/12) Melanie Trottman
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is working to improve workplace-discrimination protections for pregnant women and people caring for relatives, following complaints by employees who say they have been fired or treated poorly due to their status. The EEOC plans to give companies new guidance to make clear that the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act prevents companies from firing, refusing to hire, or otherwise discriminating against a worker because she is pregnant. Meanwhile, the Americans With Disabilities Act contains provisions that could require companies to offer more accommodations to pregnant women.
Another option the agency could take is a tougher litigation strategy against employers, says EEOC general counsel P. David Lopez. The EEOC has filed 268 lawsuits alleging pregnancy discrimination over the past decade; 216 suits have been resolved, and plaintiffs have been awarded more than $42 million.