What are your rights against pregnancy discrimination?

Discover the protections for pregnant women from employment discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. See what this act does and does not cover.

Pregnancy is a normal and natural process. When pregnant, most women continue with their daily lives as usual. This includes working. In the past, employers would often avoid hiring women of childbearing age or get rid of an employee once she became pregnant, but there is now a law protecting women against such pregnancy discrimination.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the PDA is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It provides guidelines that prevent discrimination against pregnant women. The guidelines cover treatment of an employee during pregnancy and is matters related to childbirth and medical conditions arising from the pregnancy.

Banned actions and requirements

The PDA requires the same treatment for pregnant women as other employees. This includes how an employer would handle issues with temporary leave, accommodations and general treatment. Under the PDA, an employer cannot use pregnancy or the possibility of pregnancy as a reason when making decisions about hiring, firing, promotion, wages and layoffs.

An employer may also not treat a pregnant worker differently than other workers. Nor can an employer create different policies or requirements for pregnant workers. The employer cannot make a pregnant woman take time off work or take a leave from work if she is able to do her job duties and if the employer would not require the same of another employee who is not pregnant.

If a pregnant employee cannot do her job duties, the employer must treat her the same as any other employer on temporary disability. In addition, employers must provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees so that they can continue to work.

The PDA also mandates that employers provide health insurance that covers pregnancy and related expenses. Employers must also provide equal access to all benefits for pregnant workers.

Not a requirement

There is an important exception in the PDA. The U.S. Department of Labor explains that an employer does not have the responsibility to protect a pregnant worker from dangerous working conditions beyond the normal health and safety protections offered to every employee. The pregnant worker will have to decide if her job is too dangerous to continue and take the appropriate actions to start medical leave.

If you feel that your employer has discriminated against you due to your pregnancy, then you have rights to hold your employer responsible. You should seek guidance from an attorney knowledgeable in the laws surrounding pregnancy discrimination, such as Bryan E. Kuhn, Counselor at Law, P.C.