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Pregnancy discrimination continues to be a problem

While pregnancy discrimination is related to gender discrimination, there are actually both federal laws and California laws that separately prohibit employers from singling out workers who choose to have a child.

The basic premise of these laws is that one should not have to choose between earning a livelihood and being a parent. In general, pregnant employees must have the same rights, and the same access to benefits, as do other workers. Otherwise, the employees may be able to pursue compensation and other relief via a pregnancy discrimination claim.

Based on the number of filings with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, it is fair to say that pregnancy discrimination continues to be a problem in workplaces both in the Los Angeles area and throughout the rest of the country. The EEOC enforces federal anti-discrimination laws, including laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination. Many times, an employee files an EEOC complaint as a preliminary step before filing a lawsuit alleging discrimination.

During the fiscal year 2018, the EEOC received 2,790 complaints of pregnancy discrimination and resolved a total of 3,340 such claims. Of these, the EEOC found that there were reasonable grounds to believe an employer committed pregnancy discrimination in 183 cases.

However, many other claims settled before the EEOC reached a final determination. Overall, the EEOC collected $16.6 million in benefits on behalf of aggrieved employees. This dollar amount represented the most benefits the EEOC collected since 2013, when the agency collected $17 million in benefits.

Although the number of new claims was down to its lowest level since at least 2010, the numbers overall show that pregnancy discrimination remains a problem. Californians who suspect that they are victims of pregnancy discrimination are encouraged to evaluate their legal options carefully.

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