Not all offices are as awesome as the one I recently worked in for four years. We were a seriously tight-knit group, and everyone — including my previous bosses — not only knew I was pregnant the same day I found out, but they knew I was trying to get pregnant for nearly a year with fertility services.
Never once did I ever feel as though my job was threatened there because of my family planning. At least, not until after I lost my twin pregnancy and was shortly transferred to a different department that offered more “family-friendly hours.” I spoke with a lawyer, and was going to proceed with a complaint, but then my spouse was presented with a business offer that took us out of state, and, honestly, I just didn’t have the time or patience to proceed.
Upon being hired at my current day-job, part of orientation included review of the new employee manual, which very clearly states that discrimination against pregnant workers will not be tolerated. Part of me wondered if they added this into their new handbook because they knew about my blog, but I was still so new, so I didn’t mention anything — even though I was protected.
That’s the funny thing with laws, and guidelines, and policies against discrimination: We all know they (mostly) exist, but we also know that discrimination still happens and we somehow feel like we need to protect ourselves from it — because the laws, guidelines, and policies just don’t do enough.
And, as far as pregnancy discrimination in the workplace goes, that’s been the case since 1978, which is the year it became illegal to discriminate against a pregnant worker. But over the years, what’s considered discrimination and what’s not considered discrimination has been blurry.
To better clarify the lines, just last week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new information to help everyone more fully understand the decades-old law, and the newest guidelines better protect pregnant workers.
Here’s just some of the good news. To review the complete guidelines, visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website.
- Lactation is now covered as a pregnancy-related medical condition, and breastfeeding/pumping discrimination is illegal.
- Parental leave must apply to men as well.
- Pregnancy accommodations are treated the same as other temporary accommodations.
- Discrimination against female workers based on past or prospective pregnancies is illegal.
Have you been mistreated at work or discriminated against in the workplace because of a pregnancy?
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