Employers choose to discriminate against pregnant women for a variety of reasons. They may be misinformed about what job duties pregnant women are and are not capable of; they may fear that pregnant workers will not return from leave fully committed to the job or they may be concerned about the image that a pregnant employee projects.
Traditionally, employers have not always been held liable for the discriminatory behavior of employee supervisors. The chains of command at larger companies have leant themselves to some measure of protection. In certain cases, supervisors may actually have had discriminatory intent in recommending the termination of an employee, but it may have been a manager or director who ultimately fired the worker based on the evaluation completed by the supervisor.
When government employers are held accountable for unacceptable behavior through employment discrimination suits, the settlement or judgment awards are often paid with tax payer money. As a result, large damage awards paid by local governments tend to make headlines.
Most people think they know how they would react to a scenario involving victimization or injustice. We tell our children to stand up to bullies, and we know extrinsically that it is not ok for other people to violate our rights.
Though the phrase "support our troops" is outwardly affirmed by nearly all Americans, not all civilians and employers act consistently with this sentiment. In fact, veterans who have returned home from service too often experience discrimination in the workplace as a result of their previous duty.
Federal law protects employees with disabilities from unjust employment discrimination. Under the law, a disability can be characterized as an injury, a medical condition one has had since birth, an illness and even pregnancy in certain situations. As a result, it is little wonder that Hollywood is buzzing about whether 'Blue Bloods' star Jennifer Esposito will file an Americans with Disabilities Act employment law claim against CBS for its alleged discrimination against her.
When most Americans think about the concept of segregation, they immediately connect it with the civil rights movement and the ways in which minorities in America have been treated in the past. Though discrimination does exist today, surely it cannot rise to the level of segregation, we assume.
It has been many decades since "I Love Lucy" broke barriers by allowing Lucille Ball's pregnancy to be shown on television. Since that time, Americans have come to understand that while pregnancy often requires certain employment accommodations, whether the expectant mother works on a television show, in a restaurant or as an executive at a Fortune 500 company, it does not justify treatment characterized as pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.
It can be difficult to curb illegal and discriminatory practices in the private sector. It would be easy to think that it is far less difficult to execute consistently fair hiring and employment practices in the public sector.