Tens of thousands of women throughout the United States continue to experience pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, according to a new analysis. The National Partnership for Women & Families conducted the study using the most recent data available from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It finds that, between October 2010 and September 2015, nearly 31,000 charges of pregnancy discrimination were filed with the EEOC and state-level agencies, and the number of charges remained relatively unchanged from year to year. The analysis is being released today, on the 38th anniversary of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).
“Nearly four decades after we banned pregnancy discrimination in this country, it is shameful that women are still being fired, forced out of their jobs, and denied employment and promotion opportunities because they become pregnant,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership, which helped lead the coalition that won passage of the PDA. “And it is deeply disappointing that we do not see a significant reduction in the number of charges filed from year to year. These new findings confirm what too many women know to be true, and they are especially striking when you consider how many instances of discrimination go unidentified and unreported. It’s clear that more needs to be done to protect pregnant workers and to fully realize the promise of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.”
According to the EEOC data, the most common reason women filed a charge of pregnancy discrimination during the nearly five-year time period studied was because they believed they were discharged from employment for becoming pregnant; nearly one-third of the charges fall into this category. The next most common reasons for filing a charge were discriminatory terms and conditions of employment, harassment and disciplinary action. Other key findings of the National Partnership’s analysis, which incorporated recent demographic data on women’s labor force participation, include:
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which is currently before Congress, would make clear that employers must provide the same workplace protections for women with pregnancy-related limitations as they do for workers with similar limitations, including minor job modifications. The bill has 31 co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate and 150 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives, with bipartisan support in both chambers. Eighteen states, the District of Columbia and four cities have passed similar laws. And polling shows more than 90 percent of voters favor a policy to protect pregnant workers.
“When members of Congress return to work later this year, they have a chance to show America’s women and families that progress on the policies they care about is possible,” continued Ness. “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a reasonable, common sense, bipartisan proposal that would strengthen workplace protections for pregnant workers by helping ensure that employers provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women who want to continue working. There is no reason Congress cannot pass it this year, and the country would be better off as a result.”
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.