Planned Parenthood is known as one of the leading organizations in the United States providing women’s health services. Recently, it was accused of refusing health accommodations and discriminating against pregnant employees, according to a recent New York Times investigation. Current and previous employees have now alleged a variety of actions by local and national affiliate offices that they say represented a lack of treating pregnant workers with the same standards for which the organization advocates.
Since 2013, a dozen legal cases have been filed against the organization alleging violations of workplace standards, including denying breaks and conducting retaliatory actions for employees using leave time. Planned Parenthood is a non-profit national organization that provides sex education, women’s health services, and reproductive services. Through its offices, it treats more than 2.4 million lower-income patients annually.
The report states that some managers refused to hire pregnant candidates and denied accommodation and break requests by pregnant staff in some of its offices. It also states that current and former employees believed that management considered whether candidates were likely to become pregnant when making their hiring decisions, which is specifically prohibited by law. Two employees are documented to have reached confidential settlements with the organization in two cases in New Rochelle, New York, both for being fired after giving birth.
No Paid Leave for Workers
The report also states that since funding is routinely threatened by lawmakers opposed to Medicaid coverage for certain reproductive services, Planned Parenthood has been operating with unstable future finances. Its employees in 49 of its 55 regional offices do not receive paid pregnancy leave as part of their compensation package. The president of Planned Parenthood Federation, in reply to the report, stated that they are exploring whether paid maternity leave can be added to cover its employees across the U.S. Yet, a regional director said providing just its staff alone with maternity leave would add $2 million annually to their budget; a cost that can exceed a clinic’s entire budget.
Federal Laws that Prohibit Pregnancy Discrimination
Pregnancy discrimination is prohibited in employment under U.S. laws, including the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and individual states’ employment laws that can provide additional protections. Protection from discrimination covers hiring and firing, promotions and salary increases, and requests for workplace accommodation during a pregnancy. The Planned Parenthood allegations are part of more visible cases of employment discrimination across the U.S. and point to the progress still needed to treat all employees fairly under the law.