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June 18, 2012

Pregnant and Over 40 – Still Discrimination Issues After All These Years

It’s sometimes difficult to spice up a blog on a rather mundane topic, such as the EEOC.  However, based on recent headline stories, the topic of EEOC is anything but mundane.  Below are some interesting statistics that pertain to two laws enforced by the EEOC.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

I thought all employers would be fully aware that it is illegal to discriminate against women because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, duly titled “The Pregnancy Discrimination Act”.  Apparently not.  The Washington Post recently reported that “nationwide in fiscal 2011, women filed 5,797 complaints with the EEOC alleging pregnancy discrimination at work or in hiring, a 23% increase from fiscal 2005.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there either.  After the baby is born, discrimination continues in the form of the “motherhood wage penalty” of up to 5% per child.

So what can be done?  The EEOC is stepping up their enforcement efforts, which could help raise awareness, along with increased guidance to employers as to how to comply.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

The ADEA, in simple terms, prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on an employee’s age.  “Employment decisions” cover a variety of areas inlucindg compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.  The ADEA forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older.

I have been reading a lot of news stories highlighting the difficulties “older” workers are having in securing a full-time job.  Even the AARP has a guide titled “Age Discrimination:  What Employers Need to Know”.  The guide seeks to inform employers that older workers are valuable resources to an organization.  In response to the statistics below, we are seeing more publications and articles referring to the benefits of “baby boomers” in the workplace.  Compare the statistics from 2001 to 2011 below:


  FY   2001 FY   2011
Receipts 17,405 23,465
Resolutions 14,672 26,080
Monetary   Benefits (Millions) $53.7 $95.2


By creating awareness of these issues regarding the PDA and ADEA, employers should step back and re-evaluate their processes.  Oftentimes, previous experiences have shaped our perceptions which have unintentionally influenced decisions.  We must work together to change that mindset and avoid further discrimination.  After all, we are in the 21st century; we are too smart to still be dealing with issues that are decades old.



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