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Employment Discrimination Blog

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

What Is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provided much need protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of such fundamental things such as a person’s race, national origin, sex, and religion. In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII to include discrimination on the basis of pregnancy in the prohibition on sex discrimination.

What is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition. Such discrimination is considered unlawful under the prohibition on sex discrimination set forth in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law prohibits pregnancy as the basis for any employment decision, whether it be in regard to hiring, firing, promotion, demotion, compensation, or benefits.

What the Pregnancy Discrimination Act really calls for is that women who are impacted by pregnancy or a related condition much be treated equally as other employees or prospective employees similarly situated in their ability, or inability, to work. This means that an employer cannot base a decision not to hire a woman because she is pregnant. If she is otherwise qualified and able to perform all central functions of the job, this would be considered an unlawfully discriminatory act. Furthermore, an employer cannot base a decision not to hire a pregnant woman because coworkers or clients may hold certain prejudices against pregnant workers.

Additionally, the PDA provides that pregnant employees must be able to continue working as long as they are able to perform their jobs. No matter how “well-intentioned” it may be, an employer cannot force a pregnant woman to take time off when she is otherwise capable of performing all major job functions. Should an employee need to take an absence due to a pregnancy-related condition and then recovers from the condition, the employer cannot prevent the employee from coming back to work.

Should an employee experience a pregnancy-related disability, the PDA provides that the employer must provide the pregnant employee with the disability leave or leave without pay as is provided to other temporarily disabled employees. Furthermore, the employer is obligated to hold open the pregnant worker’s job for the same length of time that a job would be held open for another employee on sick or temporary disability leave. Additionally, an employee temporarily unable to perform normal job duties due to pregnancy must be afforded the same treatment that an employer would bestow on other temporarily disabled employees. This means that, if other temporarily disabled employees would be provided with light-duty or task modifications, as well as alternative work assignments, or disability leave, then the employee temporarily disabled due to pregnancy or a related condition must also be provided with these amenities.

Employers are also prohibited from treating pregnant workers differently when it comes to employment benefits. Should an employer provide medical leave benefits to workers, those same benefits must be provided to an employee on leave for pregnancy-related conditions. When it comes to vacation time calculation, raises, disability benefits, and other benefits, employees with pregnancy-related conditions must be afforded the same treatment as other temporarily disabled employees.

Employment Law Attorneys

Has your employer discriminated against you because you are pregnant or have a pregnancy-related condition? Pankey & Horlock is here to discuss your legal options with you. Contact us today.


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