Data showing a steady statewide decline in the number of discrimination complaints involving pregnancies reported during the past five years appear promising.

An analysis of data compiled by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office in Oklahoma City and requested by Oklahoma Watch found fewer women are reporting such claims here. Oklahoma Watch found the number of pregnancy discrimination complaints filed during fiscal year 2019, which ended Sept. 30, was the lowest it had been since at least 2014.

The 22 complaints that were filed this past year show pregnancy-related discrimination complaints were filed by women who were fired after disclosing pregnancies or while they were on maternity leave. Complaints also revealed adverse employment decisions that included transfers to undesirable shifts after returning from leave and denials of accommodations.

It’s a shame that pregnancy-related discrimination still exists in the workplace 41 years after it was prohibited by federal law. There is some comfort knowing the number of complaints in Oklahoma has been declining.

There could be, however, a need for further examination of this issue. There are many reasons why those who experience discrimination in the workplace might not report it — reasons might might include fear of further retaliation once a complaint is filed and loss of income.

Until more is known about how many instances go unreported, every employer must respect the needs of their workers, especially expectant and new mothers.

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