In Focus: Pregnancy Discrimination Alive and Well in Japan, U.S.

By Dana Wilkie September 17, 2015

Like the United States and many other nations, Japan outlaws discrimination against pregnant women at work.
But that law has been routinely ignored, advocates for women say. Being told to clean out your desk because you’re pregnant may be illegal, but it happens. Even more frequent are workplace demotions. (PRI)

Here in the U.S., we still hear stories like this:
A professor sued a Christian university in the Pacific Northwest after she was fired for being pregnant out of wedlock, while an AutoZone employee reached a settlement with the company over a pregnancy discrimination claim in California. (SHRM Online)

As a result, the EEOC’s chairwoman is tackling pregnancy discrimination head-on.
After a high-level executive with a 2-year-old son told her manager she was trying to get pregnant, the manager said a pregnancy could interfere with her job responsibilities, and two weeks later demoted her to a position that paid less and had no supervisory duties. The EEOC concluded that the demotion’s timing and the manager's actions were unlawful. (SHRM Online

Here are some things you never, ever say to a pregnant worker:
With pregnancy discrimination claims growing at a faster rate than any other protected category, it’s critical that managers know what comments and behavior to avoid when dealing with workers who are expecting. (SHRM Online

Here’s more on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII, which covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. Title VII also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government. (SHRM Federal Resources

Dana Wilkie is an online editor/manager for SHRM.


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