Thursday, January 3, 2019

Do as they say, not as they do: employees accuse Planned Parenthood of pregnancy discrimination

According to a scathing report by The New York Times, employees nationwide are accusing Planned Parenthood of engaging in rampant pregnancy discrimination.

Some examples:

The organization allegedly prohibited a pregnant medical assistant suffering, from high blood pressure, from taking breaks recommended by her nurse.

Managers are accused of refusing to hire pregnant job candidates, and of pushing new moms out of their jobs after they gave birth.

What lessons can employers learn from these stories of alleged mistreatment? The EEOC offers some best practices for employers to adopt to "reduce the chance of pregnancy-related PDA and ADA violations and to remove barriers to equal employment opportunity."

  • Develop, disseminate, and enforce a strong policy based on the requirements of the PDA and the ADA. 

  • Review any light duty policies. Ensure light duty policies are structured so as to provide pregnant employees access to light duty equal to that provided to people with similar limitations on their ability to work.

  • Temporarily reassign job duties that employees are unable to perform because of pregnancy or related medical conditions if feasible.

  • Have a process in place for expeditiously considering reasonable accommodation requests made by employees with pregnancy-related disabilities, and for granting accommodations where appropriate.

  • If a particular accommodation requested by an employee cannot be provided, explain why, and offer to discuss the possibility of providing an alternative accommodation.

  • Focus on the applicant's or employee's qualifications for the job in question. Do not ask questions about the applicant's or employee's pregnancy status, children, plans to start a family, or other related issues during interviews or performance reviews.

  • Develop specific, job related qualification standards for each position that reflect the duties, functions, and competencies of the position and minimize the potential for gender stereotyping and for discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Make sure these standards are consistently applied when choosing among candidates.

  • Make hiring, promotion, and other employment decisions without regard to stereotypes or assumptions about women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

  • Review workplace policies that limit employee flexibility, such as fixed hours of work and mandatory overtime, to ensure that they are necessary for business operations.

  • Consult with employees who plan to take pregnancy and/or parental leave in order to determine how their job responsibilities will be handled in their absence.

The bottom line? No employee should ever have to feel like they are having to choose between their pregnancy and their job, period. If your employees feel this way, then you have, at a minimum, a culture issue that you need to address. And, if your policies or practices are the reason why employees feel this way, then you have (or will have) a serious legal issue that is going to come back to bite you.

* Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash