10 Ways to Support Pregnant Employees: Know the Laws [+ More!]

10 Ways to Support Pregnant Employees: Know the Laws [+ More!]

It’s hard to fathom, that pregnancy discrimination still exists. Since the start of FY 2011, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recovered approximately $4.4 million for victims of pregnancy discrimination through its litigation program. Sadly, discrimination-related lawsuits have involved workers in all segments and sectors of the workforce. Anti-discrimination training is still desperately needed in today’s workplace, as is training specific to pregnancy discrimination!

What is Pregnancy Discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination is a type of employment discrimination that occurs when expectant employees face discrimination due to their pregnancy or intention to become pregnant. This type of discrimination includes firing or not hiring someone.

According to the EEOC, recent pregnancy discrimination violations include:

Ways to Support Pregnant Employees

#1. Know the pregnancy discrimination laws! The reality of employees not knowing the laws is costly to the company and their reputation. It’s also detrimental to the employees’ well-being.

Take, for instance, the EEOC v. Founders Pavilion, Inc. pregnancy discrimination case. The EEOC filed suit against the company under Title VII. The claim stated that Founders Pavilion refused to hire a woman, withdrew an offer of employment to a second woman, and terminated a third woman due to pregnancy. This lawsuit and settlement also involved claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act.

The result of the lawsuit was substantial:

What are pregnant employees’ legal rights? Well, there are quite a few! All employees, not only those who are eligible, must be aware of pregnant employees’ rights and the company’s legal obligations.

It’s essential to consult with legal counsel and stay up to date with federal and state laws to ensure compliance. Remember to keep abreast of local laws, too!

#2. Promote company policies. HR should have clear policies in place for paternity and maternity leave. All employees should be aware of the benefits and specifics of the policies.

#3. Treat all employees equally. Remember to treat pregnant employees the same as other employees. Fair treatment includes major functions of her job, promotions, pay increases, and assigning high-profile projects.

#4. Communicate openly. Pregnant employees may have unique needs or concerns that management needs to be aware of. Encourage open communication. Always be an active listener. Be respectful of sensitive information.

#5. Provide accommodations. Remember the ADA law. If an employee requests accommodations due to pregnancy-related conditions, work with them to find reasonable solutions. Typical accommodations include flexible work schedules, remote options, ergonomic solutions, and temporary alternative reassignments.

#6. Be of assistance. HR should be available to discuss health insurance coverage and the level of health benefits. Help a pregnant employee who needs to take leave under the FMLA navigate the process. Provide options for child care to new parents. Always be there for all employees to offer help as needed.

#7. Offer health and wellness programs. Topics for these programs can range from maternal health to sharing prenatal support services to stress management. Promote the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) so new parents understand they have access to counseling services. Returning to the office for the postpartum worker can be emotional. Those with a newborn baby must have the resources to balance work and family life.

#8. Embrace a supportive and inclusive culture. Foster a workplace culture that values work-life balance and supports employees during significant life events, such as pregnancy and childbirth. A supportive and inclusive work environment promotes employee well-being and helps attract and retain top talent.

#9. Monitor and evaluate policies and accommodations. Regularly request feedback from pregnant employees and new parents. Be open and responsive to adjusting strategies based on feedback and changing needs.

#10. Provide pregnancy anti-discrimination training. Proper anti-discrimination training can prevent lawsuits. Obviously, the EEOC sees the importance of pregnancy discrimination training as it’s typically one of the ramifications of a lawsuit.

Here’s yet another real-life story of pregnancy discrimination, involving the EEOC v. Kids R Us, LLC. The EEOC suit against the company under Title VII claimed that a woman was demoted from her full-time position as assistant faculty director to a part-time cook position because, according to one of the company owners, she “decided to get pregnant.” The settlement agreement included providing live training to all Kids R Us employees on anti-discrimination laws, including laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination and retaliation.

By training employees on their rights under federal and state laws, employers can prevent confusion on coverage such as breaks, vacations, and more. Education can also help employees be their own advocates at work. For example, if an employee’s manager decides that they must pump breast milk in the restroom, but the employee knows that company policy and the FLSA say differently, they can inform the manager or HR before pursuing it through the Department of Labor, which could lead to significant fines.

HSI Can Help!

Ready to provide pregnancy anti-discrimination training? Ready to say no to a hostile work environment? HSI offers an in-depth, all-encompassing online compliance and anti-harassment employee training program for all audiences. The training bundle pairs learnings on key workplace regulations, such as FMLA and ADA, with comprehensive anti-harassment prevention training. Whether for an HR professional ensuring policies are within compliance, a business leader concerned about potential litigation, or an employee who believes their rights have been violated, this bundle has what everyone needs.

Compliance training for managers often looks different from that needed by employees on the front line. Tailored compliance course material reflects the learners’ roles and responsibilities.

We recommend teaching about anti-harassment and learning the “why” behind it. When employees understand why harassment happens and how to identify it, organizations have a higher chance of preventing it. Offer courses on understanding offenders, targets, warning signs, bystander training, and ways to build a healthy culture.

HSI offers a wide variety of up-to-date compliance and anti-harassment online training courses. Here’s the list of HSI’s courses that focus on pregnancy discrimination.

Our HSI LMS is mobile-first and learner-first. Employees can access it at any time and at their own pace. HR professionals can build a supportive and inclusive workplace culture and continuous learning, access and track training, and protect your company’s brand and reputation. Consistent anti-discrimination training can have an impact on the company’s bottom line.

For more information on the best way HSI can help, request a free trial of our LMS.


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