Many Americans are presently dealing with unpaid bills. In the United States, the most common unpaid bills are medical. According to Health Affairs, one in six Americans have past-due health care bills leading up to a debt totalling $81 billion. More than half of these bills, about 53%, amount to less than $600 each. Nearly three-quarters of Americans between the ages of 20-65 reported that they were insured, but still weren’t able to pay for their medical bills.
Unpaid Bills Due To Declined Maternity Leave
Unpaid Bills Due To Wrongful Termination
Unpaid Bills Due To Sexual Orientation And Gender Discrimination
Unpaid Bills Due To Other Forms Of Discrimination
One common cause associated with unpaid medical bills is when women are not paid for their maternity leave. In California, Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) helps expecting mothers take time away from work to care for their new child and themselves, as they may be physically or mentally impaired due to their pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions.
California’s law has two requirements that must be met, including:
When these requirements are met, the expecting mother may take leave. For paid leave, the maximum is 6 weeks. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave and a job-protected leave for a 12 month period based on reasons relating to childbirth. Further, an employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 month period prior to taking maternity leave. The company must also have 50 or more employees.
If an employer declines an employee maternity leave, she will likely have difficulties paying for her medical bills. Regardless, it is important for a woman to get her deserved six weeks of paid leave to ensure that she is taken care of and can pay for expensive doctor visits, procedures, and the aftermath of a child being born.
In most instances, employers can terminate a working relationship at any time, including laying off employees due to reorganization, downsizing, bankruptcy, or for no reason at all. However, it is unlawful to be terminated because of your race, religion, gender, or national origin or for engaging in a protected activity. Employees who are wrongfully terminated may have to deal with unpaid bills in the aftermath of being fired for discriminatory reasons.
Compensatory damages may assist employees who are dealing with wrongful termination. These damages are intended to pay the employee for any losses he or she has suffered based on being wrongfully terminated. This payment covers various potential losses, such as the costs of searching for a new job, dealing with emotional harm, or medical expenses that need to be paid off.
Punitive damages can help compensate employees who have dealt with malicious or reckless discriminatory actions. To get punitive damages, you must show that your employer discriminated against you while being aware that their conduct was a violation of law; or that your employer engaged in an outrageous behavior from which a reckless indifference may be drawn.
Sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace is a very real and pervasive issue. While there are policies in place to prevent this unjust practice, they are not yet widespread enough to ensure employees are not treated unfairly because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits any form of discrimination against any person because of his or her sexual orientation, including, heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality. Additionally, FEHA forbids discrimination on the basis of an employee’s gender-related appearance, gender identity, gender expression, and gender-related behavior, regardless of whether that behavior is outside the mainstream or associated with the employee’s assigned sex at birth.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has helped those who have been discriminated against in the workplace because of their gender identity and sexual orientation. The Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, as well as retaliation.
Employees who have been wrongfully fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity will face a difficult time trying to pay their bills. These individuals typically suffer from workplace inequalities which cause instability and high turnover. This can easily result in an increase of unemployment and poverty rates.
There is a wage gap between gay and straight workers. This pay gap applies for women, as well. Women earn about 85% of what men earn. It would take about 39 additional days of work for a woman to earn the same amount as what a man earns.
Unfortunately, it is expected that employees experiencing sexual orientation and gender discrimination will face financial difficulties when it comes to paying off bills. Yet there are options available for aggrieved individuals, such as compensation for unpaid bills.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), racial discrimination is prohibited. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s been eliminated from the workplace. According to publicintegrity.org, black workers make up 13% of the US workforce while racial discrimination against this group makes up about “26% of all claims filed within the EEOC and its partner agencies.”
Hispanics also face hardships due to their race. According to npr.org, 33% of Hispanics experienced discrimination when applying for jobs and 32% experienced discrimination regarding pay or promotions. Dealing with these obstacles makes it difficult for otherwise qualified individuals to earn a fair wage, let alone find employment. Therefore, unpaid bills amongst aggrieved minorities can become a serious, recurring issue.
Finally, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), those who are 40 years old and older are protected from being mistreated due to their age. However, age discrimination complaints have increased recently with workers between the ages of 55-64 filing a significant amount of discrimination complaints. The percentage of charges that have been filed by workers who are 65 years old and older has nearly doubled since 1990.
As stated previously with racial discrimination, protections offered by the law alone will not entirely resolve the issue. This can easily lead to unpaid medical bills. Fortunately, there are measures an aggrieved employee can take to recover their lost wages.
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