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Pregnancy still impacts women’s professional advancement

Many companies have put a lot of time and effort into developing, supporting and retaining women employees. Yet the New York Times articles recently published a series articles about the plight of women in the workplace. One example zeros in on the negative impact pregnancy has upon professional advancement, pointing out that this is often the issue women bumps into before the glass ceiling, but impacts employees ranging from Wall Street executives to Walmart cashiers.

Still happening in 2018

Despite the fact that companies have created parental leave policies, allowed for flexible hours and even provided lactation rooms for breast pumping, studies show that women still are routinely passed over for advancement once they become pregnant. It is not uncommon for them to be fired if they complain.

Other telling details:

  • There is a 4 percent cut in pay for each child a mother has. At the same time, men average a 6 percent pay raise for each child.
  • The number of pregnancy discrimination claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has climbed steady over the past 20 years to an all-time high of 3,184 in 2017.
  • According to the researchers at the s Bureau, male spouses made only slightly more income than their female counterparts two years before childbirth. By the time their child turned one, the average pay gap had doubled to $25,000.

Pregnancy laws go back to the 1970s

The first case of discrimination against expectant mothers was brought against General Electric in the 1970s. The company did not give paid time off to pregnant mothers, but it did to those with disabilities. In 1976, the Supreme Court upheld this policy as not biased. Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978 at the urging on unions and feminist leaders. This law made it illegal to treat pregnant women differently for the ability or inability to perform their work.

Still work to do

It seems that many companies still need to absorb the policies that they have instituted to accommodate the laws. Attorneys and labor experts versed in the law can help businesses deal with accusations of violating the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Addressing disputes before they lead to litigation can reduce the expense and disruption these matters can have upon companies. It can also help attract, groom and retain female employees.

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