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Workplace Discrimination Remains Strong

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Workplace Discrimination Remains Strong
By Teresa Cajot


In an ideal world, we would have reached a point in the modern workplace where discrimination issues no longer exist. However,
as evidenced by the ongoing need for agencies such as the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Labor
Department, this is far from true.




Further evidence of this was presented at a public meeting           sick days, many of these workers lack even that financial
in Washington, DC last week, where panelists reported that           protection. Furthermore, even after the employee gives
despite the implementation of the Pregnancy Discrimination           birth, the discrimination typically continues in the form of the
Act of 1978, pregnant women continue to face massive                 “motherhood wage penalty “ of as much as five percent per
hurdles in the professional world. “Similarly, caregivers-both       child, which is calculated following consideration of education
men and women- too often face unequal treatment on the               and experience.
job,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.
                                                                     Many in attendance at the February 15 meeting suggested
In the past decade, pregnancy-related discrimination charges         that greater collaboration between the EEOC and the
have increased by a whopping 35 percent. Since 2001,                 Department of Labor, which is responsible for enforcing the
the EEOC has taken on a total of 52,000 pregnancy cases.             Family and Medical Leave Act and the Affordable Care Act’s
Women, who make-up 47 percent of the US workforce, are               Break Time for Nursing Mother’s provision of the Fair Labor
often trapped between the desire to expand their families and        Standards Act, could potentially serve to reduce the incidence
the fear of a backlash from their employer, thus proving that        of such discrimination by reducing overlapping laws. The
employers continue to engage in the stereotypical assumption         public has been invited to submit comments on workplace
that pregnant women cannot be dedicated employees.                   discrimination against pregnant women during the month of
                                                                     February at commissionmeetingcomments@eeoc.gov. The
Low-wage workers in the services industry are particularly           EEOC is expected to release a four-year strategic plan on
vulnerable, often experiencing prejudice, reduced work               reducing pregnancy discrimination in September.
hours, demotion, or job loss as the result of a pregnancy or
caregiving responsibilities. Due to the fact that the US is one
of the only industrialized nations that does not require paid




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