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Understanding pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

There are numerous state and federal laws in place that are designed to protect the rights of Minnesota workers. This includes protection against various forms of discrimination such as gender discrimination, race discrimination, disability discrimination and more. Pregnancy discrimination is another way in which employee rights can be violated. According to a report in the Grand Forks Herald, employees in both Minnesota and North Dakota continue to face this form of discrimination.

The challenges faced by pregnant employees can include many factors. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicates that pregnancy discrimination may affect a woman’s hiring, firing, benefits, training, job assignments and compensation. Legally employers are to treat pregnancy just as any other temporary disability. This includes providing unpaid leave to pregnant workers and allowing new mothers the ability to pump breast milk at work.

Proving pregnancy discrimination can be difficult. Between 2010 and 2013, 66 percent of all such complaints filed with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights were found to not have probable cause. Minnesota is one of 12 states with laws in place requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women in the workplace. North Dakota only recently passed such a bill. These laws, however, do not negate the requirement for employers to provide equal treatment to all employees.

Even if a complaint filed with the EEOC or a state agency is found to be without probable cause, workers can pursue legal action privately. Understanding what constitutes pregnancy discrimination and when to get help is important for all expectant or new mothers.

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