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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released new research about workplace discrimination and it turns out we still have a long way to go, baby.
Despite employment laws, pregnant women and women who take care of their elderly parents and other relatives -- surprise! -- still have a harder time achieving equal treatment at work and are often denied job opportunities and leave. In fact, pregnancy discrimination charges have jumped 35 percent in the last decade. And in fiscal 2011 there were 20 pregnancy-discrimination lawsuits filed by the EEOC.
“Pregnancy discrimination persists in the 21st century workplace, unnecessarily depriving women of the means to support their families," EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien said in a press release. "Similarly, caregivers -- both men and women -- too often face unequal treatment on the job. The EEOC is committed to ensuring that job applicants and employees are not subjected to unlawful discrimination on account of pregnancy or because of their efforts to balance work and family responsibilities.”
Just how bad is it?
• Moms are more at risk for poverty. Researchers from Indiana University found that women suffer a "motherhood wage penalty" of about 5 percent per child, and that the gender pay gap may really be a motherhood pay gap.
• Workers most vulnerable to pregnancy discrimination (which is against the law, thanks to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act) are those who earn low wages in service jobs, which are also more likely to be part-time. These jobs are less likely to have set hours, making it even harder to plan for child- or eldercare.
• Panel members from The Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center shared sad stories of moms and other women who were subject to discrimination and harassment, including the tale of one pregnant worker who was not allowed to alter her work uniform and was simply forced to take leave when it no longer fit.
Somewhere, we can hear Gloria Steinem weeping.
Watch: How Different Would Your Life Be Without Kids?