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Is workplace pregnancy discrimination increasing?

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2021 | Employment Discrimination, Pregnancy Discrimination

Workplace discrimination comes in many forms, and many employees seek legal remedies in Hawaii to address harassment and bias. Pregnancy discrimination lawsuits represent a noticeable percentage of such litigation. While laws exist to protect women from employer sanctions directed against them when pregnant, not all employers play by the rules.

Pregnancy and workplace discrimination

From 2016 to 2021, federal lawsuits centered on workplace pregnancy discrimination increased. Professionals say that 2021 could see more than 400 cases filed in federal courts, a significant amount more than the 235 lawsuits filed in 2016.

Economic downturn may play a role in the trend in increased workplace discrimination. When a pregnant worker requires additional leave or takes greater advantage of employer-sponsored health benefits, the employee may become “too costly” for a business. One way the employer might respond to the added costs could involve illegally firing the employee.

Someone who is pregnant or who has a newborn and is without a job might find locating new employment challenging. Without employment, the dismissed worker’s financial situation could worsen quickly. Filing a lawsuit may provide a way to address the financial losses resulting from employment discrimination.

Additional matters of concern to employees

Of course, cost is not the only factor that contributes to possible workplace discrimination. Employers might look for many excuses to fire a pregnant worker because of misconceptions about maternity leave.

Legislation known as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act might be helpful to those hoping for increased protections. The related bill passed the House of Representatives but faces an unknown future in the Senate. Even if the legislation continues to stall, current discrimination laws could support a civil action against an employer in the wrong.