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Pregnancy discrimination: An ongoing problem in the workplace

Although the U.S. Department of Labor reports that 57 percent of women are active in the workforce, many Minnesota women still face discrimination from employers or potential employers. This is especially true when they are pregnant. At Neaton & Puklich, P.L.LP., we often see clients who have been blatantly discriminated against during all stages of pregnancy, and understand that the issue will continue to be a problem until employers are forced to change their approach to handling these matters.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that pregnancy discrimination occurs when employers or interviewers treat pregnant women unfavorably based upon pregnancy, a pregnancy-related medical condition, or the recent birth of a child. Furthermore, if a business makes any kind of employment decision based on the pregnancy of a worker, it is considered discrimination and is prohibited under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act. This includes decisions about job assignments, promotions, pay rates, fringe benefits, and training. Employers are also required to treat workers with a pregnancy-related disability in the same manner they would treat any other employee with another disability and provide reasonable accommodations.

Minnesota law is not silent about this issue. In just 2014, the Pregnancy Accommodation Requirement portions of the Women’s Economic Security Act took effect, ensuring that businesses with 21 or more workers provide proper accommodations for their pregnant employees. The law allows pregnant women to request, for example, a transfer to a less strenuous position, frequent bathroom breaks and a limit on the amount they can be expected to lift. These requests should be made on the advice of a medical provider. For additional information on this topic, visit our web page.

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