It's no secret that people are "laid off" all the time - based on their sex, race, religion, sexual orientation or for being pregnant/requesting maternity leave. The work place is not always a fair place.
Instances of pregnant workers being laid-off are increasing significantly. So much so that the number of complaints for unfair dismissal filed by pregnant women has increased by 50% in the past decade.
What is difficult to prove is that pregnancy or maternity leave is the real reason for the layoffs. But many women have been part of layoffs where the only people laid off were older workers, and women either pregnant or on maternity leave. Coincidence? They think not.
The 1964 law known as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects women from being fired - or not hired - due to pregnancy. But like any other discriminatory reason - employers would ensure they had another reason lined up for why they elected to not have a female employee on maternity leave return.
According to a recent New York Times article, what most women who have faced this kind of discrimination think is that employers figure she will be gone for three months and they are better off to dismiss her and find someone less likely to get pregnant, so that the company doesn't have to deal with maternity leave again.
Lawyers from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission believe that employers are using the loopholes in Title VII, as well as a difficult economy to escape being found liable for discrimination. In this harsh economy, it's hard to prove that the six people laid off from a company of one hundred employees were done in a discriminatory fashion, even if all six were either over 60 years old, pregnant or recently so. Employers know this, the lawyers feel, and are taking advantage of the uneven playing field.
For more help and information about maternity rights in the work place, click here: www.eeoc.gov
Have you, or someone you know, been discriminated against for being pregnant? Have you felt that maternity leave adversely affected your position at work?
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