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Pregnancy Discrimination Claims Rose in the 1990s, early 2000s


Pregnant businesswoman talking on telephone
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Pregnancy Discrimination Complaints Climb:

Pregnancy discrimination complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rose dramatically, with women filing 65% more claims in 2007 than in 1992, according to a report by the National Partnership for Women & Families. The partnership is a non-partisan, non-profit group that advocates for family-friendly workplace policies and work-life balance.

Claims of pregnancy discrimination have climbed faster than the influx of women into the workforce, said the report, which criticized longstanding stereotypes and perceptions that cost pregnant women job opportunities.

A Closer Look at 1996 to 2005:

Complaints by women of color drove the increase. In an analysis of the decade from fiscal year 1996 to 2005, the partnership found that pregnancy discrimination claims by women of color jumped 76%, compared with only 25% overall.

Breaking down claims by racial group found an increase of:

  • 45% for Black women
  • 135% for Hispanic women
  • 90% for Asian/Pacific Islander women
  • 109% for American Indian/Alaska Native women

More than half the claims (53%) arose in service, retail trade, financial services, insurance and real estate, industries in which about 70% of women work.

Commentary by Partnership President:

"It is truly sobering that, 30 years after our nation outlawed discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, so many women are forced to file complaints with the EEOC, " said partnership President Debra L. Ness, in a statement.

"We are especially concerned that so many women of color face pregnancy discrimination, and that employers in industries dominated by women workers are not obeying the law," Ness said. "Negative stereotypes about women, particularly pregnant women, clearly persist. We must strengthen enforcement of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to make real the promise of equal opportunity in this country."

Claims Skyrocketed in Over a Dozen States:

In the decade from 1996 to 2005, pregnancy discrimination charges filed with the EEOC increased in 38 different states. That rise was over 50% in Puerto Rico and these 13 states:

  • Arkansas
  • Iowa
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Source: the National Partnership for Women & Families.

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