Pregnancy discrimination rules apply to all aspects of work, including hiring, dismissal, seniority rights, and job security. Employers who break these regulations risk facing hefty penalties and court expenses. As a result, it is critical to take steps to decrease the possibility of pregnancy discrimination and to offer a safe and nondiscriminatory work environment for your pregnant employees.
Both federal and state rules govern how employers should treat pregnant women during their pregnancies and after they take time off for childbirth and baby bonding. Employers should take the procedures outlined below to ensure that their workplace is welcoming to pregnant employees in order to avoid pregnancy discrimination lawsuits.
Understand What Pregnancy Discrimination Entails
Discrimination based on pregnancy, delivery, or associated medical problems is illegal under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers with 15 or more workers, including state and municipal governments, are covered by the legislation. Pregnant women, as well as those suffering from associated diseases, shall be treated equally to other candidates or workers with similar talents or restrictions. The law includes protection under the following categories – pregnancy and maternity leave, health insurance, working conditions, temporary disability, Affordable Care Act, and fringe benefits.
Develop an Employee Handbook
You might not have a pregnant employee in your office right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for the future. Here are a few things you may do to prepare yourself:
- Have a policy in place that covers all federal and state rules relating to leaves of absence, including those that pertain to pregnancy, in your employee handbook.
- Ensure that all job descriptions are current, as well as any designated critical job duties. This might make any interactive activity go more smoothly.
- As indicated in the EEOC advice, teach managers and employees on their rights and obligations relating to pregnancy, delivery, and associated medical issues on a regular basis. Examining applicable federal, state, and local rules and regulations, as well as your employer’s policies, is part of this process.
Build Trust and Be Vigilant About Any Complaints
Now that your staff understands what constitutes pregnancy discrimination, how severe it is, and how to report it, it’s time to reinforce by action. Regular pregnancy discrimination training informs your staff, the discrimination policy provides a road map for them to follow and treating pregnancy discrimination complaints seriously supports your zero-tolerance stance. Anyone who comes forward to allege pregnancy discrimination is taking a major step. They must overcome valid fears that they have witnessed in real life in order to eventually report the situation. Is anyone going to trust them? What if the perpetrator or the corporation retaliated instead?
Most people feel that submitting a report would harm them or their jobs in the long term and that it is far more comfortable to remain silent and “endure.” Pregnancy discrimination, on the other hand, isn’t only awful for the victim. It’s also terrible for businesses because the scenario might quickly devolve into a hostile workplace.
Maintain Professionalism and Impose Sanctions
Keeping a professional work atmosphere might assist avoid improper behaviour in the office. Employees retain courtesy, respect, maturity, and skill in a professional situation. Because of the absence of limits in the workplace, unprofessional behaviour can be a forerunner to many forms of discrimination. Professionalism keeps the workplace in order, as well as the behaviour of employees towards each other.
When employees are aware of the ramifications of discriminatory conduct, they will actively seek to eliminate it. Employees should actively pursue investigations into complaints made and implement appropriate punishments to show that the firm is serious about anti-discrimination advocacy.
Use Fair Language and Be Consistent
While considering all complaints seriously and implementing the appropriate investigation procedures, the language used must be fair and non-accusatory. Whether the employee is a janitor or the vice president of operations, disciplinary action must follow policy and be uniform for all workers. Human resource files must have documentation of all actions.
The importance of consistency cannot be overstated. Consistency demonstrates that you want everyone to be treated equally and according to the same rules when it comes to discrimination. It also gives you legal protection. No one can accuse you of allowing one individual to get away with identical behaviour after only receiving a warning and no disciplinary action.
Analyze and Inspect for Unintentional Pregnancy Discrimination
As previously stated, not all discrimination is deliberate. Some are based on unconscious biases or decision-making that is neutral, especially when it comes to dealing with pregnant women. To put it another way, people may make judgments based on their preconceived notions or beliefs about a circumstance or person.
This can take the form of:
- The language used in job advertisements and job descriptions.
- Screening and recruitment exams.
- Chains of command and team structures.
- Promotions and salary raise.
We propose reviewing your company’s demographic data to discover areas where there may be a lack of representation or possible signals of prejudice to find instances of unintentional discrimination. If you find a major underrepresentation of women in mid-to senior-level leadership roles, for example, this is generally due to a system or procedural flaw that favours male applicants.
More than an anti-discrimination policy is required to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. It entails communicating and modelling these values at all levels of your business on a regular basis. Discuss these concerns in your team meetings and discussions. Define your company’s values in both internal and external communications. It’s a good idea to include it in your company’s branding and recruitment messaging.