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Pregnancy Discrimination Is Still A Glaring Problem, New Report Shows

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It's not surprising, unfortunately, but new research shows that pregnancy discrimination is still a big problem we need to address. In fact, a survey released Friday by Workhuman Research Institute found that pregnant woman are struggling to get hired.

Specifically, the report, called "The State Of Humanity At Work," found that 36% of women surveyed reported that they were passed over for a job because they were pregnant. Workhuman's research is hardly the first to show that pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is happening all the time. For instance, a 2018 The New York Times investigation found there were insidious ways to discriminate against a pregnant woman, like asking her to lift things that would physically endanger her and then claim she was incompetent.

Additionally, a 2015 analysis by the U.S. Equal Opportunities Employment Commission found that 31,000 complaints of pregnancy discrimination were levied against companies between 2010 and 2015.

Greg Stephens, PhD, of the Workhuman Research Institute tells Romper he hopes this data "can help HR and senior leaders gain a deeper understanding of how to better cater to core human needs, such as safety, fair pay, work-life harmony, growth, inclusion and belonging, and recognition."

As this new research shows, pregnancy discrimination can start before a job even starts. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission conducted a survey of employers in 2018; one-third of those surveyed felt it was acceptable to ask a woman if she planned to have a baby during the interview process. What's more, nearly half of employers (46%) said they thought it was reasonable to ask the applicant if she had young children at home as well.

"We wanted to bring to light the fact that pregnancy discrimination exists and is impactful, not only to women, but to the overall workforce," Stephens says.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was signed into law in 1978 to protect the rights of pregnant workers in businesses with 15 employees or more. If a woman is still able to carry out her major duties, it is against the law to treat her differently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains. However, as Forbes reported in 2018, employers are "technically" allowed to ask a woman if she is pregnant during the interview process; the Pregnancy Discrimination Act only covers women who are already employed.

Ultimately, Stephens tells Romper the report's findings "should be a call to action for HR and senior leaders to insist on a better experience for all."