Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination is discrimination because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.  Pregnancy discrimination became illegal through an amendment to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The civil rights act was amended in 1978.  It is known as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  (PDA)

The PDA applies to employers with 15 or more employees.  It includes local, state, and federal governments.  Title VII also includes employment agencies and labor organizations.  The law is enforced by the EEOC, which has field, local, and district offices.

Pregnancy Discrimination Laws

  • Hiring --An employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, because of a pregnancy-related condition, or because of the prejudices of co-workers, clients, or customers.
  • Pregnancy -- An employer may not single out pregnancy-related conditions for special procedures to determine an employee's ability to work.  If an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job because of her pregnancy, the employer must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee.
  • Maternity Leave -- Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs.  Employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence the same length of time jobs are held open for employees on sick or disability leave.
  • Health Insurance -- Any health insurance provided by an employer must cover expenses for pregnancy-related conditions on the same basis as costs for other medical conditions.  An employer need not provide health insurance for expenses arising from abortion, except where the life of the mother is endangered.
  • Fringe Benefits -- Pregnancy-related benefits cannot be limited to married employees.  In an all-female workforce or job classification, benefits must be provided for pregnancy-related conditions if benefits are provided for other medical conditions.  Employees on leave because of pregnancy-related conditions must be treated the same as other temporarily disabled employees for accrual and crediting of seniority, vacation calculation, pay increases, and temporary disability benefits.

The PDA was enacted to protect women who become pregnant against discrimination in employment.  It applies to employers with more than 15 employees, local, state, and federal governments, employment agencies, and labor organizations and state and federal agencies.  .  A claim filed in a state human relations office that has work sharing agreement with the federal EEOC will protect your rights under state and federal law.  Many employment lawyers will take these cases on a contingency basis.  Seek competent legal counsel.

Lawyers for Pregnancy Discrimination

If you think you have been a victim of pregnancy discrimination, consult a lawyer who specializes in employment law.  They can advise you on the strength or weakness of your case, give you information about what you need to prove and what timelines are important.  They can provide you with information on any rights you may have against pregnancy discrimination under state law.  State law may give you additional protections against pregnancy discrimination.

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