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EEOC Addresses Women’s Issues at White House’s United State of Women Summit

As a participant in the White House’s United State of Women Summit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued three new documents addressing challenges that women face in the workplace: equal pay, pregnancy discrimination and pregnancy accommodation. The summit, which took place on June 14 and 15, aimed to bring leaders together to examine issues affecting women and girls and to consider best practices for action moving forward.

The first of the three new EEOC documents, “Equal Pay and the EEOC’s Proposal to Collect Pay Data,” addresses a proposal made by the EEOC in February to collect pay data from employers with 100 or more employees starting in 2017. The document notes that “equal pay” covers not only wages but also the right to overtime, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and other forms of compensation. This is important for employers to bear in mind when evaluating pay practices.

The second document, “Legal Rights for Pregnant Workers under Federal Law,” starts by stating that all employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited from pregnancy-based discrimination and harassment. The document briefly explains the rights provided to pregnant workers under federal law, specifically by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), noting that discrimination is prohibited against any woman who is pregnant, was pregnant, could become pregnant, intends to become pregnant, has a medical condition related to pregnancy or had an abortion or is considering one. Employers should consider taking note of the breadth of who is covered by these federal laws.

The last of the three new documents, “Helping Patients Deal with Pregnancy-Related Conditions and Restrictions at Work,” is directed not to employers or workers but instead to healthcare providers. The document offers them examples of accommodations to which pregnant workers may be entitled, such as work adjustments and reduced schedules, so that doctors can better help pregnant women remain employed without jeopardizing their health. A question raised by this new document is whether it will reach its intended audience of healthcare providers and whether the document will in fact make a difference in how these providers help pregnant workers.


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