When you think about pregnancy discrimination, you likely think it only impacts your career if you become pregnant and then lose your job. Rather than working with you throughout the process and then giving you proper maternity leave, your employer simply opts to fire you and hire someone else.
Some people are bullies. That's true when you're in grade school, college or the workplace. These types of individuals do not just disappear because you hit a certain age. We often think of bullying as something that happens to young people, but you could have decades of career experience and be in your 50s when you encounter a workplace bully who tries to push you around to get your way or just to make themselves look better.
Harassment is a very tricky subject because it is not always that overt. You do have cases of a boss saying something discriminatory about women, minorities or something of this nature, clearly singling out a worker or a group of workers. But these events are less common than they used to be, and harassment often takes on a more subtle form in the modern day.
Many workers in California and around the country are the targets of overt or covert discrimination while on the job. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has reported that it fielded more than 72,000 discrimination complaints in fiscal 2019. Many of them were prohibited by such well-known laws as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some other types, however, are not as publicized.
San Francisco Bay Area readers might be interested to learn that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently began investigating a pregnancy discrimination case filed against Google by a former employee. The plaintiff reportedly lodged a complaint against the California-based company in late 2019. The EEOC transferred the claim to its investigative division on Feb. 19.
Putting in many years on the job in California could result in age discrimination instead of rewards for hard work. An AARP report examined the economic consequences of workplace age discrimination. The report predicted that lower pay for older adults could cost the whole economy trillions of dollars by 2050. This will happen because older adults comprise a growing segment of the population. With more people earning less than they should, the overall economy misses out. As things stand now, researchers predict that older workers will contribute $28.2 trillion to the economy by 2050. If they did not face discrimination, then that figure could be $32.1 trillion.
The entertainment industry in California has been the site of a number of serious sexual harassment allegations in recent years. After all, the #MeToo movement developed out of revelations about alleged harassment and assaults committed by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Many of the harassment victims who have since come forward have included high-profile executives, professionals and actors. Now, the Grammy Awards are also coming under scrutiny after the suspended CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences filed a workplace discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that she was retaliated against for reporting unwanted sexual advances.
Workers in California may be familiar with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The legislation aims to protect workers over 40 from being adversely impacted at work because of their age. However, a recent AARP study found that ageism in the workplace is still a significant problem. The report states that most employers don't emphasize avoiding discrimination based on age because laws protecting older workers are relatively weak.
While media attention has shed a light on sexual harassment and abuse in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere, employees continue to suffer from harassment and unwanted sexual attention on the job. According to a study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, almost 1 out of every 18 women and 1 out of every 40 men has been subjected to sexual harassment in and around their workplaces. These statistics mean that around 10 million Americans could report some form of unwanted sexual contact, harassment or physical sexual assault by a supervisor, client, co-worker or boss, according to researchers.
Employers in California and around the country are prohibited from discriminating against pregnant women by the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and protections for breastfeeding mothers were added to the Fair Labor Standards Act in 2010. A lawsuit recently filed by a group of female flight attendants and pilots accuses Frontier Airlines of violating these laws. The women say that they were forced to take unpaid leave while they were pregnant and were denied reasonable breastfeeding accommodations.