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Yahoo CEO's pregnancy announcement shines light on discrimination

Workplace discrimination is a frequent theme in this Broward County Employment Law Blog. Time and time again, we have mentioned cases in which employers violate federal employment law by discriminating against workers or job applicants on the basis of their age, race, sex, disability, religion or nationality. Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, it is also illegal to make decisions on the terms of a worker's employment on the basis pregnancy.

Nonetheless, there are unfortunately cases in Florida where women are refused employment or promotions, or even fired, because they are pregnant. A former Google executive who was named Yahoo's chief executive just recently announced her pregnancy, setting yet another example that there is no reason to discriminate against pregnant women or mothers in the workplace.

Marissa Mayer had a very successful 13-year career at Google, and she was recruited by Yahoo in mid-June. She said she disclosed her pregnancy to Yahoo's board at the end of June and that none of the company's directors seemed to mind hiring a pregnant chief executive.

Of course, it would have been illegal to give the fact that she is pregnant any weight in the hiring decision.

Not only is it illegal for companies to discriminate against pregnant employees or applicants, but under the Family Medical Leave Act, businesses that employ at least 50 people must allow employees to take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for the birth of a child.

Mayer has said she will take only a few weeks away from the office, and that she will work throughout that time. While that decision is her right, it is important that new parents are not pressured out of taking their FMLA leave.

South Florida employees or employers who are confused about pregnancy discrimination and FLMA laws are often wise to consult an employment law attorney.

Source: CNNMoney, "New Yahoo CEO Mayer is pregnant," Patricia Sellers, July 16, 2012

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