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Pregnancy Discrimination A Growing Problem In Colorado Workplace

DENVER (CBS4)- Pregnancy discrimination is a growing problem in the American workplace and several women in Colorado believe they were victims.

Rebecca Walker is celebrating her brand new bundle of joy but she believes her son is the reason she lost her job as a cardiac tech at Denver Health.

"I feel very wronged," said Walker.

Walker admits Brady was a difficult pregnancy and she had to go on short-term disability.

"When I said, 'I'm ready to come back' they said not to come," said Walker.

She has emails showing that the hospital hired someone else for her position. Eventually the hospital put her in a different job.

"I work in a clerical position in Denver Cares," said Walker.

When asked how that made her feel, Walker replied, "I feel like I was singled out and it wasn't fair. Nobody deserves to be treated that way just for having a baby."

In a statement, Denver Health said it "fully supports pregnant employees" and followed the law regarding walker's job.

The hospital couldn't comment further because of a pending complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

pregnancy - thinkstock
(credit: Thinkstock)

The EEOC said it's seen a 45 percent increase in these claims and takes them very seriously.

"This is a major concern, discrimination based on a woman's pregnancy is unlawful and it's something that is protected by federal law and it is something that is part of moving the American work place to true equality," said EEOC Director, John Lowrie.

Andrea Turner filed a pregnancy discrimination complaint against Kaiser Permanente. She said pumping breast milk was a problem right from the start.

"There were times where me and other women would be fighting over the room," said Turner.

Kaiser provides a space for breast pumping and time for employees but would not make up the training timing Turner missed while she pumped.

"And when they said they couldn't accommodate, they couldn't make up that time, they wouldn't be able to train after or before or on lunches or anything, I just stopped pumping," said Turner.

Two months later Turner was terminated. Kaiser Permanente denies that had "anything to do with breast feeding or pumping at work."

In a statement, Kaiser said company policies "support women by providing adequate time and accommodations."

"I think that this is a problem because there are still, unfortunately, a lot of stereotypes about women, the roles of women at work, the roles of women at home," said 9 to 5 Executive Director Linda Meric.

9 to 5 is a women's advocacy group. Meric recommends that all women know their rights and speak up if they feel violated.

Walker and Turner are working their way through the complaint process but say it has put a lot of stress on what should be a joyous time.

"This isn't fair. I didn't do anything wrong. All I wanted to do was my job and work and have my baby," said Walker.

Next month the U.S. Supreme Court will take up a pregnancy discrimination case. A UPS worker is claiming discrimination after she was forced to take leave instead of being put on light duty during her pregnancy.

Congress is currently considering the Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act which would give women further protections under the law.

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