Employment Discrimination Blog

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect an individual from being discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Pregnancy in no way means you may treat an employee or potential employee any differently than someone else. The PDA works to ensure that no discriminatory acts are made against someone because they are pregnant, have recently given birth, or have a medical condition related to these things.

What is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

There are many ways to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy. If an unfavorable employment action is made because someone is pregnant, this is prohibited by the PDA. An unfavorable employment aspect may be:

  • Failing to hire a qualified individual
  • Firing an employee
  • Making an adverse change in the employee’s pay
  • Making an unfavorable change in job assignments
  • Failing to promote an employee
  • Not providing the employee with proper training
  • Withholding fringe benefits such as personal leave or health insurance)

It may be tempting for some employers to treat a pregnant employee differently based on stereotypes associated with pregnancy. An employer must not only treat a pregnant employee the same as any other employee, but the employer must not do anything to stand in the way of a pregnant employee performing job functions she is fully capable of performing. An employer has a duty to all employees to promote a healthy and safe work environment, but there is no duty to make special arrangements and take extra steps to protect those employees who are pregnant or may become pregnant. If an employee cannot perform certain work functions due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical conditions, the employee must be treated as any other employee would be treated with similar restrictions on their working abilities or inabilities.

While an employee is on leave from work due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, the employer is required to hold her job position for the same amount of time that a job would be kept open for an employee who went on disability or took sick leave. Also, the employee is prohibited from having a rule that predetermines the time an employee must return to work after childbirth. 

The PDA also makes it clear that retaliation against employees who oppose discriminatory employment practices is in direct violation of the law. If an employer is acting in a way that discriminates against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition, an employee is free to report this without being afraid of an adverse employment action. This employee may charge, testify, or participate in an investigation or proceeding under Title VII and an employer will face serious repercussions if the employee is in any way punished for doing so.

Protecting the Rights of Pregnant Employees.

Pregnancy is not a time to worry about what changes your employer might make to your job situation. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects those employees who are pregnant, may become pregnant, have just given birth, or have a related medical condition, from adverse employment actions. If these rights have been violated, contact Pankey & Horlock, LLC. We stand up for the rights of employees.

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