Custom «Pregnancy Discrimination» Essay Paper Sample

Pregnancy Discrimination

The law of the land makes it unconstitutional to unfairly treat employees in their place of work. According to generally and simple definition of discrimination, it has been thought as the act of unfairly treating or unequal treatment of persons based on their religion, sex/gender, sexual orientation, age, academic level, marital status and pregnancy. The later issue has been of serious concern in the recent past and thus forms the basis for this paper.  Statistics in the from the courts attests to the unjust treatment of pregnant employees who are time and again subjected to unlawful pregnancy discrimination, termination as well as retaliation in their place of work. It is worth noting that that the cases that have in the past taken to the courts have not only tarnished the organization public image but have cost such organization million of dollars paid in terms of compensation leave alone financing the case. For that matter it is rational for employers to be fully aware of the consequences of such unjust treatment of female employees who are pregnant (Becker, 1991).

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Similarly they opt to embrace themselves with options which are rational to help them when confronted with such situation. The paper thus is a critical analysis of what an employer is to do after hiring a woman for a Quality Analyst job position which entails a lot of travelling.  During the initial and second interview, prior to being hired, she was told that she will be required to travel two to three times a month.  Two months down the line it became obvious that the woman employee is actually 7 months pregnant. The assumption of this research paper is that if the employer discriminates against his pregnant employees, there is bound to be legal battle between the corporation and the employee.

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According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act developed in 1978 pregnant women opt to be fairly treated when it comes to hiring, firing, pay, promotion, layoff, fringe benefits, and health insurance among others. In the same act it is clearly spelt out that discrimination in the basis of pregnancy, medical conditions linked to pregnancy or giving birth is unlawful sex discrimination. There has been a tremendous rise in the population of pregnant women as well as new mothers being fired from their jobs or unfairly treated.

[The Equal Opportunities Commission had already estimated that 30,000 women lose their jobs each year as a result of being pregnant, and this figure looks set to rise. This shocking impact of the recession is not only morally wrong and deeply damaging to workplace gender equality - it is illegal]

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The definition of pregnancy discrimination is “discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions” (Shellenbarger, 2000). It is worth noting that although the employer hired the lady in question, potential acts classified as pregnancy discrimination include the act to fire or demote a pregnant worker, refusing to hire a pregnant woman, terminate her contract without mutual agreement between the involved parties, treating pregnant women in a different manner than other employees, forcing them to carry their duties when it is clear they cannot accomplish such duties due to pregnancy.

The act clearly states that pregnancy at certain critical stage opt to be treated as a disability case and for that matter the affected individual will be protected by the same laws governing disabled people. However it is clear that at no time should the employer either stop an employee from working provided the later is capable of successfully and effectively accomplish her tasks, duties and responsibilities. Similarly the law spells out that a pregnant employee should not be made to work in another area where she is not comfortable for instance being forced out of a place such as customer service to save the company from ‘shame’ associated with the employee pregnancy. It is worth to have in mind that the victims of pregnancy discrimination are entitled to a number of remedies including “back pay, hiring, front pay, punitive damages, reinstatement, promotion, attorney’s fees, court costs, expert witness fees, compensatory damage”  to mention but a few. With this in mind the employer opt to be careful when dealing with pregnant workers.

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Additionally it is worth to remember that an employer has no right to point out conditions related to pregnancy for special procedures to determine the ability of a pregnant employee to work or carry out certain tasks. However it is allowed for the employer to call upon the employee to bring in statements from the doctor so that to guide the actions or steps the employer will take so that the employee does not feel discriminated. On the same not the law employers from taking employment decision purely based on worker’s conducts which are caused by her being pregnant. For instance, in this case, since the employee is not capable of travelling the number of times per month as a result of her pregnancy, then the employer is not to treat her differently or better than other workers who were previously pregnant and cannot travel.

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Statistics reveal that discrimination in terms of pregnant employees has increased by about 75% in 38 States in the United States of America. Additionally it was not of importance whether a woman is employed in a female dominated work environment or male dominated work environment as this made no differences in the filling of pregnancy discrimination cases. The EEOC has established that the trend of pregnancy discrimination is overtaking other kinds of discrimination in the work place. The department of labour in the United States established that women made up close to 47% of the total U.S labour force in 2008 and they projected the proportion to rise to about 50% by 2016. In 2006 alone the EEOC addressed 6,196 cases of pregnancy discrimination with claims and compensation totalling $17.0 million.

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It has also been established that there is no single cause of discrimination in terms of pregnancy. However, scholars have pointed out that “age-old stereotypes about gender combined with increasing numbers of women in the workforce are key reasons for rising numbers” .It will be rational for me to bring out clearly rules of the game when dealing with pregnant employees. It is worth to remember always that at no time should an employer;

  • Decline to hire, promote or fire a pregnant employee as a result of prejudice caused by co-workers, clients or customers
  • At no time should an employer ask illegal questions when interviewing a pregnant applicant that they would otherwise not ask an applicant who is not pregnant
  • At not time should the employer demand an employee to give a pregnancy notice unless the same serve a legitimate business purpose
  • Employers should not forbid a pregnant employee from carrying out her duties is she is willing and physically able to execute her duties
  • Employers are obliged to offer same level of health benefits for spouses of male employees as they do for spouses of female spouses
  • Employers are also obliged to reimburse costs related to pregnancy
  • Employers opt to hold open a job for a pregnant related absence for the same period of time as in situation where the absence is due to sickness or disability leave.

In situations where a pregnant woman has been unjustly treated and in the worst case losses her job as a result of pregnant related issue suffer serious consequences later in life if they fail to secure another job. This is because her financial security is jeopardized for the rest of her live. It has been shown that women who have lost their jobs or unfairly treated due to them being pregnant are less likely to return to work after giving birth. In case they are to be reinstated their earning are usually decreased which translates to lower pension earning during retiring period. The law is only applicable in situation where the organization has 15 or more employees

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From the PDA passed in 1978 by the senate, it is evident that any kind of unjust treatment of a pregnant employee will be very disastrous to any organization. In this case involving an employee who is 7 months pregnant whose work entails travelling at least three times a month, there is room for her to do that in case she is strong enough and willing. However, I understand that a pregnancy of 7 months is in its advance stage and any duty that entails use of a lot of energy might be a problem to the employee. If the employees sees that she is unable to accomplish her duties, then she opt to depending on the procedures of the organization to follow due process in making her employer know her stand on the same. For instance, she might be compelled to bring a statement from the doctor to certain that she cannot make the three trips a month as a quality analyst for the corporation.

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On the other hand, since it is unlawful to either fire the employee or treat her in other ways that contravene the previously mentioned situation, the employer has several options in handling the case. For instance, through thorough consultation and agreement between him and the employee, they can arrive at a conclusion to provide modified tasks, alternative assignments, disability leave or unpaid leave. This concept whereby both employee and employer sit down and come to an agreement on the way forward results to what has been termed as a flexible working arrangement where both parties win at the end of the day. The reasons being that the employer will not face the legal battle and at the same time the employee is happy that her job is safe (Lindemann, 2003). 












I would advise the employer to take a few hours to have a thorough talk with the employee regarding the whole issue. This will give him the opportunity to clear his assumptions. For instance, he may believe that the employee cannot travel three times a month whereas she is willing and physically able to do it effectively and successfully. While talking, it is here that the two parties will come out clearly with a flexible work arrangement in case the employee is not in a position to carry out her duties successfully. For instance, she might be given other responsibilities that don’t entail a lot of travelling for the time being. Lastly I recommend that the employer opt to thoroughly consult with the PDA act of 1978 before making any unilateral decision in case he is not willing to hold talks with the employer (Belton, 1992). 

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From the review of the case involving a 7 month pregnant employee, it is evident that any decision taken that contravenes the provision in the PDA act will amount to pregnancy discrimination which attracts serious consequences to the organization involved. Pregnancy discrimination refers to unjust treatment of a pregnant employee with regards to issues relating to her being pregnant. When dealing with the situation, it will be better if the employer engage the employee in a serious talk so that they both get the views of each other before coming to any conclusion. This in my humble opinion will lead to a generally acceptable conclusion leaving both parties feely happy. 

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