Pregnancy discrimination is a serious issue in today’s workforce, and unfortunately, many women are unaware of how it could affect them.
What is Pregnancy Discrimination?
Legally, pregnancy is considered a temporary disability, and must be treated as such by employers. Pregnancy discrimination includes any actions that could be deemed as unfavorable to pregnant women based on their condition. A few examples include:
- Refusing to hire a woman based on her being pregnant
- Demoting or terminating employment based on pregnancy
- Denying the same, or an equal, position to an employee returning from pregnancy/maternity leave.
- Treating pregnant employees differently than peers (disabled or otherwise).
- Failure to provide health insurance to a male employee whose wife is pregnant, but providing insurance to the husbands of female employees.
What Employer Actions are Illegal?
Employers may be acting illegally if they do any of the following:
- Fires an employee after learning of pregnancy, even though the employee was still able to work for several months
- Employer refusing to reasonably accommodate a pregnant worker by reassigning her to tasks that do not jeopardize her pregnancy as would be done for an employee recovering from surgery. For example, a warehouse worker forced to quit her job because her employer refused to assign her to a position that did not involve lifting heavy boxes.
- Employer docking pay or disciplining a pregnant employee for requesting time off for doctor visits, but does not dock or discipline other employees for the same actions.
- A job placement agency asks a female applicant how many children she has, and if she plans to get pregnant. Upon finding out that the applicant is pregnant, the agency tells the applicant to return after the birth of her child.
What Does the Law Say about Pregnancy Discrimination?
Federal laws are very explicit in terms of preventing pregnancy discrimination. Unfortunately, it still happens far too often. Laws pertaining to pregnancy discrimination include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) – Protects employees from discrimination based on gender, including hiring, termination, reassignment, benefits, work conditions, wages, and retirement.
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) – The PDA was enacted by Congress to specifically address discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. The PDA requires all employers to treat employees the same way they would similarly-abled employees who are not pregnant.
- Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) – Provides the right to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for employees of companies with 50 or more employees, for the purpose of caring for a newborn, or ill or injured spouse, child, or parent. FMLA requires employers to maintain benefits and position (or equivalent) for when the employee returns.
If you are the victim of pregnancy discrimination, contact Daic Law to learn more about how we can help you fight for your rights, and seek justice for you and your family.