Nation & World Briefs 07-16-14 Federal employment unit issues new guidelines to protect pregnant workers

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WASHINGTON -- Pregnant women have new protections against on-the-job discrimination.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has updated 30-year-old guidelines to make clear that any form of workplace discrimination or harassment against pregnant workers by employers is a form of sex discrimination and illegal.

"Despite much progress, we continue to see a significant number of charges alleging pregnancy discrimination, and our investigations have revealed the persistence of overt pregnancy discrimination, as well as the emergence of more subtle discriminatory practices," EEOC Chairwoman Jacqueline A. Berrien said in a statement.

The guidelines prohibit employers from forcing pregnant workers to take leave and acknowledge that "employers may have to provide light duty for pregnant workers." After childbirth, lactation is now covered as a pregnancy-related medical condition.

It's not just women who will benefit.

The guidelines say that when it comes to parental leave, "similarly situated" men and women must be treated on the same terms.

House votes to extend moratorium: The House voted Tuesday to make permanent a moratorium that prevents state and local governments from taxing access to the Internet. Under current law, the moratorium expires Nov. 1, exposing Internet users to the same kind of connection fees that often show up on telephone bills. The moratorium was first enacted in 1998. State and local governments that already had Internet taxes were allowed to keep them under the current moratorium. But under the bill passed Tuesday, those jurisdictions would no longer be able to collect the taxes. Jurisdictions in seven states tax access to the Internet: Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Together they would lose "several hundred million dollars annually" if they were no longer allowed to collect the taxes, CBO said.

Won't face third trial: A special prosecutor on Tuesday dismissed a first-degree murder charge against a northwest Missouri man facing a third trial in his neighbor's 1990 death -- the latest and likely final legal victory in a nearly quarter-century effort to clear his name. Former Clay County prosecutor Don Norris determined that there was insufficient probable cause in the criminal case against Mark Woodworth, who was 16 when Cathy Robertson was shot and killed in her bed in the rural community of Chillicothe. A succession of court rulings had made it increasingly difficult for prosecutors to build a case with no witnesses, little physical evidence and a questionable motive. Norris acknowledged those hurdles Tuesday in an Associated Press interview.

Bystanders stop San Diego carjacking: A group of quick-acting bystanders came to the aid of a woman who was being carjacked in San Diego, tackling the suspect and holding him for police. Witnesses told KFMB-TV (http://bit.ly/1wqgO0r ) the man jumped into the car and tried to drive away with the woman and her child inside on Sunday. Before he could get away, a group of people grabbed the keys out of his hand, pulled him out of the vehicle and held him until police arrived. The suspect, identified as 21-year-old Ismael Hernandez, was arrested and is being held on suspicion of carjacking and kidnapping. The incident was recorded on video and posted to YouTube.

Two subway employees detained: Russian investigators say they have detained two employees of the Moscow subway where 22 people died and more than a hundred were injured in a train derailment. The Investigative Committee said in a statement today that they have detained the head of the track department and his deputy. Investigators said a new rail switch at the point where the train left the tracks was not properly installed during repair works in May and was in fact attached to the rail by a single wire. The rush-hour accident on Tuesday killed 22 people and hurt 136.

Israel targets leaders' homes: Israel today intensified air attacks on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip following a failed Egyptian cease-fire effort, targeting the homes of four senior leaders of the Islamic militant movement. It also told tens of thousands of residents to leave Gaza's border areas ahead of more strikes. The Palestinian death toll in nine days of fighting rose to 204, with some 1,450 wounded, Palestinian health officials said. On the Israeli side, one man was killed and several people were wounded since the fighting erupted on July 8.

Border control so far just talk: Mexico is promising to stem the flow of Central American migrants to the United States by tightening control at its notoriously porous Guatemalan border. But messages from the country's top two leaders in little more than a week have provided few details on how. And the scene on the ground is business as usual. Dozens of Central Americans who paid $1.50 a head could be seen this week crossing the broad Suchiate River on improvised rafts of inner tubes and wooden boards, in full view of Mexican police on the shore and immigration agents posted on a bridge overhead.

Explosion kills 89: A suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives near a busy market and a mosque in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least 89 people in the deadliest insurgent attack on civilians since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. The blast destroyed numerous mud-brick shops, flipped cars over and stripped trees of their branches, brutally underscoring the country's instability as U.S. troops prepare to leave by the end of the year and politicians in Kabul struggle for power after a disputed presidential runoff.

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