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Florida bill to benefit pregnant employees

Discrimination in the workplace can affect employees on the basis of factors such as race, religion and gender. Women who are pregnant may also face workplace discrimination when employers assume they will be spending less time at work. A state bill dealing with employment discrimination will interest readers in Broward County.

Federal law prohibits the discrimination of pregnant women in the workplace, but this is not necessarily the case under current Florida law. An employment law attorney in Florida says the current law creates some confusion as to whether the Florida Civil Rights Act covers pregnancy.

Florida legislators have introduced bills HB 717 and SB 774 to prevent pregnant women from being fired or working in a hostile environment. These bills specify maximum punitive damages of $100,000 and back pay for violations. It may also increase the amount of time available for claims investigations by 60 days.

These bills include provisions to exempt businesses with less than 15 employees to match the provision of the current federal law. The Senate version of the bill has already been referred to several committees, although no committee in the House is currently debating their version of the bill.

Employees who may be facing pregnancy discrimination in the workplace should take a proactive approach. They can benefit from providing their employers with 30 days notice of their maternity plans and submit written requests to their employers for doctor visits. Knowing the employers' policy about making positions available after maternity leave and having a copy of those policies on hand can help to protect an employee from discrimination.

Source: WOFL FOX 35, "Florida lawmakers look to end discrimination against expecting mothers," Kimberly Wiggins, Feb. 19, 2013

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