This is a sad commentary about the extent of entrenched discriminatory animus in a nation that, in fact, prohibits pregnancy discimination in employment.
We have just read in the Daily Mail Australia that the Australian Fair Work Ombudsman has reported that pregnancy discrimination makes up — by far — the largest number of employment discrimination claims – 47%. This is an increase from 28% in 2012-13.
The Mail reports that disability claims came in second at 20%, and “family and carer’s” discrimination claims was at 10%.
The Australia Sex Discrimination Commissioner similarly found in her surveys that “half of working mothers experience discrimination.” She noted that “I met women who were asked to make a choice – the job or the baby. The underlying implication was if you want to keep your job you need to terminate your pregnancy. And I met women who had terminated their pregnancy as result of that.”
Australia’s Fair Work Act is similar to Title VII but somewhat broader — it prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, race, color, sex, sexual preference (not in Title VII), age (in the ADEA), physical or mental disability (in the ADA), marital status, family or “carer” responsibilities (not in Title VII), religion, political opinion (not in Title VII), national extraction, or social origin (unclear to us what this is).
Like the US EEOC, the Australia Fair Work Ombudsman stressed that pregnancy discrimination will be taken seriously: “We want to increase awareness that discriminating against pregnant women is a serious breach of workplace laws and won’t be tolerated.”
The EEOC recently said that “Combating pregnancy discrimination remains a priority for this office and we will continue to work to eliminate it until it is no longer an issue.”
And on September 23rd we blogged about three new pregnancy discrimination lawsuits filed by the EEOC which demonstrate that the EEOC is indeed serious about pursuing its new agenda set forth in the Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues.