Any form of discrimination is illegal in the workplace. Employers know this well.
There are several laws protecting groups of employees. And, in turn, there are many requirements and responsibilities that employers must understand, so they do not violate the law and jeopardize their business.
Pregnant workers are one of these protected classes. And recently, several employers declared their support for a new law protecting pregnant workers.
What do the current laws say?
Both federal and California laws prohibit pregnancy discrimination. State law specifically bans employers from letting a worker’s pregnancy impact any employment decisions, including:
- Job assignments
- Paid leave
If California employers disregard their obligations under the law, they could face serious penalties.
Pregnancy discrimination is becoming a prominent issue in the business world as of late. In just the last few years, courts have ruled companies to pay out significant sums in pregnancy discrimination lawsuits.
And yet, more employers now call for new, clear protections for their workers.
Several employers voice their support for updated protections
Federal lawmakers have introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act several times over the years in the United States Congress. This law would establish federal regulations for employers to:
- Offer appropriate accommodations for pregnant workers
- Prevent retaliation against pregnant workers
It has failed to pass and become law each time.
However, in mid-September, Forbes reported that 28 companies declared their support of passing this law and increasing protections for pregnant workers in an open letter. Several companies signed their support for this law, including Microsoft, MasterCard and the California-based Patagonia.
California – and many other states, for that matter – already provide these protections under the law. Even so, employers still want federal guidelines on this topic. This would ensure that:
- Employers have a clear understanding of their responsibilities under the law;
- They can safeguard their employees;
- They can proactively prevent legal risks at all levels of the company; and
- They can reduce the risk of litigation they face.
After all, if employers have a better understanding of their legal obligations, it is much easier to comply with the law and protect the company as a whole.