Pregnancy Discrimination is Common, and it’s Illegal

Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. [U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission]  Many women are routinely fired, demoted, harassed or forced out of their jobs when they become pregnant. This workplace discrimination continues despite the passage – way back in 1978 – of the PDA.  Pregnancy discrimination is illegal in the United States.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe   benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment. It is also unlawful to harass a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

The law requires employers to provide pregnant women with reasonable accommodations if needed – just as they provide reasonable accommodations to other temporarily disabled employees. Not all pregnant women require accommodations.  But those women who do strenuous or hazardous work, or who have physically taxing assignments or must stand for long periods of time, sometimes need simple modifications to continue their work without harming themselves or their pregnancies. The PDA demands that employers make reasonable accommodations to them.

Even in 2015 pregnancy discrimination continues. If you are an employee who has experienced workplace discrimination, or an employer who wants to make sure you don’t violate the law, please call and schedule a consultation.

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