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Pregnancy discrimination is alive and well in the US

Americans like to believe they are pro-family. Mothers, in the abstract, often receive praise, and are equated as being as "American as apple pie." However, for many mothers, especially expectant mothers who are working, the reality is often very different.

When they announce their pregnancy to their employer, some are fired. Others, needing additional breaks, relief from heavy lifting or additional restroom breaks, find even minor accommodations refused. Even with written doctor's orders, they are denied their requests. 

There ought to be a law against such behavior, you may think. And there is. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. It amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prevent sex discrimination based on a pregnancy.

Nevertheless, it does little to stop companies from attempting to pretend that policies that appear to be neutral, but in fact discriminate against women. Since only women can become pregnant, refusing to offer women temporary, light duty work during a pregnancy means they will be disproportionately affected by such "neutral" policies.

According to Think Progress, there has been a 65 percent increase in these types of lawsuit since the early 1990s. It is difficult to understand the motivation behind employers who appear to be happy to make previously content workers unhappy and motivate them to sue their employers.

The women who bring these discrimination lawsuits often are driven by a desire to stop such treatment and the economic and psychological damage it can cause, from happening to other women.

If employers truly believed their own statements that "our employees are our most valuable resource" they clearly would not engage in such conduct and provoke these types of discrimination cases.

Thinkprogress.com, "Woman Says Employer Forced Her To Take Unpaid Leave While Pregnant," Bryce Covert, January 27, 2015

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