New Study Documents Sharp Rise in Pregnancy Discrimination Complaints, Driven by Discrimination Against Women of Color

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From The National Partnership for Women & Families:

In 2007, working women in the United States filed 65 percent more complaints of pregnancy discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) than they filed in 1992. A sampling of these claims found that complaints filed by women of color and those working in industries dominated by female workers fueled much of this sharp increase. Those are key findings from a new study released today by the National Partnership for Women & Families at a symposium to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), enacted on October 31, 1978. The PDA outlaws employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

The new study finds that race and ethnicity appear to be playing a significant role in the rise of pregnancy discrimination complaints. During the discrete period from FY1996 to FY2005, claims filed by women of color jumped 76 percent, while claims overall increased by 25 percent. During that time, complaints filed by Black women increased by 45 percent, by Hispanic women by 135 percent, by Asian/Pacific Islander women by 90 percent, and by American Indian/Alaska Native women by 109 percent. More than half the claims filed with the EEOC during that period (53 percent) were filed in service, retail trade and the financial services, insurance and real estate industries – where some seven in ten women work.

To conduct the study, the National Partnership for Women & Families analyzed the most recent pregnancy discrimination charge data, as well as detailed pregnancy discrimination charge data from a ten-year period – FY1996 to FY2005. The EEOC provided the information. National Partnership experts also reviewed recent demographic data on women’s labor force participation and childbearing trends, and data about stereotypes and attitudes confronting pregnant women on the job.

The new analysis of pregnancy discrimination data is available online at www.nationalpartnership.org. The full text of the report is available here (PDF).

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