The rights of pregnant women in the workplace have long been a confusing HR topic.

In a recent settlement, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) awarded $30,000 to a former employee of Triple T Foods (pet food processor) in Arkansas, when she filled a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against the company. Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Surprisingly, complaints like the one against Triple T Foods have been on the increase rather than in decline, over the past few decades. It’s no secret, an employer cannot refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant, as long as she is able to perform the major functions of the job. The PDA finds it unlawful to discriminate based on pregnancy when it comes to terms of the employment like pay, job assignments, promotions, training, layoffs, benefits and other conditions of employment.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) was created as an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit sex discrimination when it comes to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This act spells out the rights of pregnant women in the workplace. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, the number of working mothers is on the rise. The majority of women, 7 out of 10, now work and are the primary financial support for their families.

In a new enforcement guide, the EEOC detail requirements and best practices to prevent pregnancy discrimination and related issues in the workplace. This document also provides guidance on discrimination against women who undergo fertility treatments, nursing mothers, and discrimination based on stereotypes and assumptions.

Just a few months ago, at the White House Summit on Working Families, President Obama voiced his support for further action, including the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, to help families find a better work-life balance and workplace flexibility in today’s workforce policies. Do you have a question about pregnancy discrimination or the rights of pregnant women in the workplace?