After 30 years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has finally improved its guidelines against pregnancy discrimination to coincide with common sense and decency.
Pregnancy is not a justification for excluding women from jobs that they are qualified to perform, and it cannot be a basis for denying employment or treating women less favorably than co-workers similar in their ability or inability to work. Despite much progress, we continue to see a significant number of charges alleging pregnancy discrimination, and our investigations have revealed the persistence of overt pregnancy discrimination, as well as the emergence of more subtle discriminatory practices.
EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien said in a statement announcing the new rules.
The updates include a number of clarifications of policies surrounding issues like lactation, forced leave and light duty.
The agency clarified several policies, including one that spells out when businesses may have to provide pregnant workers light duty and another that bans employers from forcing a pregnant worker to take leave even in cases when she's able to continue on the job.
The policy also clarifies that lactation is a pregnancy-related medical condition and so has all the protections of the law, including requirements for schedule flexibility and a private place to express milk.
On the subject of caregivers, the EEOC stated that employers who allow parental leave must provide it to men and women equally.
Seems like pretty standard stuff, so it's more than a bit unsettling to see that we're just now solidifying these rules.
NPR reports that in the past, employers have been confused about the federal laws surrounding pregnancy in the workplace. AP notes that there has been "a 46 percent increase in pregnancy-related complaints to the EEOC from 1997 to 2011." With these new rules, the EEOC is hoping to provide more clarity for employers.
The agency also released a Q&A regarding the new enforcement guidelines which I urge anyone who ever has a chance of becoming pregnant and likes employment to check out. Let's also get started on printing, binding and putting these rules in the hands of every woman in America to help protect us all from getting screwed over because of some discriminatory bullshit.
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