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Pregnant workers face routine discrimination

Californians may be interested in a new report that claims pregnant women are often denied accommodations and fired as a result of their pregnancy. The report, co-authored by the National Women's Law Center and A Better Balance, says women who face pregnancy discrimination often work in low-wage jobs, where workers may have to stand for 8-10 hours a day. Pregnant women may need additional breaks, or they may be considered to be a liability to the company.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act are supposed to prevent discrimination from happening to pregnant women. Employers, however, are not applying the regulations in the correct manner. In addition, these laws are misinterpreted by both the employees and the courts. The ADA, for example, covers temporary conditions that result from pregnancy, but some employees do not understand this law.

The report believes that Congress needs to pass new legislation to ensure that pregnant women are protected in the workplace. Emily Martin, vice president and lawyer for the National Women's Law Center, thinks that the solution may be stricter enforcement of the current laws combined with clearer guidelines about them.

California has broad legal protections for pregnant workers. Workers who have been discriminated against or terminated because of their pregnancy are entitled to seek compensation. Workplace discrimination can happen for a variety of other reasons. Employees may face race discrimination, cancer discrimination, disability discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination or sex discrimination. Workers who have faced a hostile work environment or been fired for these reasons can take legal action against their former employer. A lawyer can help victims take the right steps toward winning their case.

Source: CBS News, "Report: Pregnant workers face routine discrimination", Stephen Smith , June 18, 2013

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