The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is acting swiftly on its promise to crackdown on a specific kind of illegal workplace behavior. A few weeks ago, the agency announced its plans to focus on pregnancy discrimination violations in the workplace. Late last month, the EEOC settled one related complaint and filed an additional four in a single week.
Five lawsuit actions in a week may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things. But given that the EEOC can only devote itself to prosecuting a fraction of the number of complaints it receives annually, this number represents a significant commitment to the cause of combating pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.
Despite the advances women have made in the workplace over the past several decades, the EEOC has labeled pregnancy discrimination and related pregnancy accommodation challenges as an emerging issue.
In fact, Congressional Democrats are also currently working to address these emerging concerns. They are attempting to pass the “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” which would “ensure that pregnant women are allowed the same reasonable accommodations currently available to people with disabilities,” according to the Huffington Post.
The EEOC’s efforts are being praised by civil rights activists, women’s rights groups and employment discrimination experts across the country. The sentiment seems to be that by placing the spotlight on pregnancy discrimination, the EEOC will force employers to think twice before discriminating against pregnant employees or applicants. This shift may be especially true in low-wage and other vulnerable employment scenarios.
Source: Huffington Post, “Pregnancy Discrimination In The Workplace Target Of New EEOC Crackdown,” Christina Wilkie, Sep. 29, 2012