Pregnancy Discrimination is “Rampant” in the American Workplace, the New York Times Reports
The New York Times recently brought attention to the rampant discrimination facing women in the workplace. The article features current and former lawsuits brought by pregnant women and mothers against some of the country’s largest employers, underscoring not only the individual plight of women but also the institutionalized nature of workplace discrimination.
Though pregnant women have legal protections, the court has not always ruled favorably on the matter. In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled in General Electric’s favor, deciding that the company did not discriminate when it excluded some disability benefits for pregnant employees. Nearly forty years later, the U.S. Supreme Court confronted a similar case. In Young v. United Parcel Service, 135 S. Ct. 1338 (U.S. 2015), the Court considered whether an employer is obligated under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to provide a pregnant woman with the same types of accommodations that it provides to non-pregnant employees with similar limitations, such as a disability from an off-duty injury. Like the 1976 General Electric case, the court’s ruling was 6-3; the new Young ruling, however, was found in favor of expectant mothers.
Though the 2015 decision seemed progressive, the Supreme Court still failed to establish absolute protection for pregnant women and mothers. Today, American women continue to face pregnancy discrimination at record levels. In 2017, for example, just two years after Young ruling, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 3,184 pregnancy discrimination complaints.
A lack of equal opportunity for pregnant women in the American workplace clearly persists. Employers consider pregnant women and mothers to be distracted, less devoted, and more irrational than other women in the workplace. Beyond the prejudicial perceptions women face when starting a family, women must also endure quantitative setbacks: one study found that women suffer a 4% decline in hourly wages with each child, while employers award men a 6% increase when they become fathers. And the United States remains the only major developed nation without guaranteed paid parental leave — lagging far behind economic powers like Germany, which offers 14 weeks of paid leave to either parent. Gender inequality will certainly continue to affect working women until the country strengthens legal protections for pregnant women.
Messing, Rudavsky & Weliky regularly represents victims of pregnancy discrimination before the MCAD and EEOC. We are proud of our clients for their bravery standing up against unjust treatment with resiliency, confidence, and consistent commitment to both motherhood and career. If you believe you are experiencing Pregnancy Discrimination or discrimination of any kind in the workplace, please contact us to set up a consultation.
 The New York Times, Pregnancy Discrimination Is Rampant Inside America’s Biggest Companies, June 15, 2018.
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