Since women make up nearly half of the American workforce, employers should expect that some female employees may become pregnant during their careers. While employers may not intentionally act discriminatory toward these employees, improper policies may still permit pregnancy discrimination.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, pregnancy discrimination lawsuits resulted in about $14 million in settlements in 2021. To lower the risk of being responsible for such financial obligations, employers should review these tips to prevent pregnancy discrimination.
1. Educate managers about company pregnancy policies
Not only do federal and state laws regulate work environments for pregnant employees, but many businesses have additional company policies and resources available. Ensuring management personnel understand the regulations and policies can help to prevent discriminatory acts. Additionally, management can guide employees to available resources to ensure their well-being.
2. Be flexible with work schedules
Pregnancy requires frequent medical appointments to maintain the health of babies and mothers. To ensure employees remain in good health and stay active members of the work community, employers should allow flexibility in scheduling doctor visits. Additionally, as women’s health evolves during pregnancy, employers should allow time off for medical complications which might arise such as extreme morning sickness, high blood pressure issues, or pre-term labor concerns.
3. Do not make assumptions about an employee’s ability to work
Despite a pregnant woman’s physical changes, she may be able to perform the required job without any modifications. Making assumptions and assigning desk duty or limiting employment without any discussion with the employee can be discrimination.
Women have the right to work in an environment free from pregnancy discrimination. All employers should be taking steps to prevent it to ensure the best possible workplace for all of their employees.