The very survival of the human species relies on individuals who choose to have children and successfully raise them to adulthood. While this may be true, it has not stopped many employers from creating and exercising discriminatory policies, mostly against mothers. Workplace discrimination lawsuits filed by family caregivers have increased nearly 270 percent in just the past 10 years, indicating a serious issue that many parents, and mothers in particular, face.
Pregnant women are on the receiving end of most caregiver-related discrimination. Discriminating against pregnant women in the workplace first became illegal in 1978, but that has not stopped some Massachusetts employers from denying these workers their rights. In just one decade, discrimination against pregnant workers shot up by 315 percent. This type of discrimination usually comes down to employers refusing to supply women with relatively simple accommodations that would allow them to continue working while still following their doctors’ orders. Some employers take this discrimination so far as to deny pregnant cashiers a stool, thus requiring them to remain on their feet all day.
The discrimination does not stop once a mother has given birth and returned to work. Many women choose to breastfeed their children because of the cost of providing formula, meaning that they often need to use a breast pump during work hours. The Affordable Care Act calls for employers to provide women with time and a private area — specifically not a bathroom — in which they can pump. Aside from refusing to provide such accommodations, many employers simply refuse to find a middle ground with female employees. One such example includes a police officer who was unable to wear her bulletproof vest because she was breastfeeding at the time, and her employer’s response was to either put the vest on or take a leave of absence until she could.
Although a large majority of primary caregivers are mothers, many fathers now play an increasingly active role in their family’s well-being. Massachusetts fathers are also taking a stand against caregiver workplace discrimination, and paternity leave related claims have taken a 336 percent increase in the prior decade. Caregivers across the nation have certain rights in the workplace, and violations of those rights do not have to be suffered silently.
Source: TIme, “Caregiver Discrimination Lawsuits Up 269% in the Last Decade“, Joan C. Williams and Cynthia Thomas Calvert, May 17, 2016