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Pregnancy Discrimination

As a result of a large settlement by Verizon, pregnancy discrimination has been a hot topic in the legal and popular press over the last few months. While most employers are aware that they can’t discriminate based on age, sex, or race, many employers and employees are unaware of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (the standard federal discrimination law). The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which only applies to employers with enough employees to pass the threshold test, provides that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions is unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII.

Though people would like to think that society is making progress against discrimination, pregnancy discrimination and the resulting suits are on the rise. A July article wrote:

A study released this month finds a nearly 400 percent increase in the past decade in lawsuits involving family responsibility discrimination, from 97 cases in 1996 to 481 last year. A majority of cases involve pregnancy, says Cynthia Calvert, deputy director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California Hastings College of Law, which issued the report.

If you are an employer or employee and seek more information on pregnancy discrimination, a good starting point is the EEOC website.

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