Thousands of women have been subject to unlawful discrimination because they were pregnant, or because their employers feared they would become pregnant. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the agency that receives and investigates claims of pregnancy discrimination at the federal level. In its role, the EEOC has compiled statistics both of the number of new pregnancy discrimination claims reported and the number of pending cases the EEOC has resolved.
Although it is hard to tell if this is a long-term trend, over the last two years, the number of allegations of pregnancy discrimination have been on the decline. In 2017, there were 3,174 new claims filed, compared with 3,486 in 2016 and 3,543 in 2015. In 2010, there were 4,029 claims filed.
Of these claims, anywhere from nine to 12 percent are settled through the EEOC’s informal mediation process. Others are resolved early on, usually after the employer agrees to pay some benefits to the complaining employee in exchange for a dismissal of the complaint. Around 60 percent of claims are investigated and dismissed.
There are several important things that Fresno residents should keep in mind with respect to these statistics. For one, these statistics only pertain to complaints to the federal EEOC. California has its own law and enforcement process.
Perhaps more importantly, the fact that the EEOC decides not to pursue a matter further does not mean that the alleged victim has no legal recourse. Indeed, the employee still has the option to file a lawsuit. A lawsuit of this nature can help a victim of discrimination get back pay and other damages.