Pregnancy discrimination is job discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. Pregnancy discrimination involves the harassment, discrimination, or treatment of a woman differently or unfavorably because of her pregnancy.
You may be the victim of illegal pregnancy discrimination if you were:
- Fired from your job because you became pregnant and temporarily couldn’t perform your job.
- Disciplined for requesting to take time off work to visit her doctor or disciplined for missing time from work.
- Not given the same benefits, promotions, or medical insurance as other employees.
- Harassed or treated differently because of pregnancy.
How Am I Protected?
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act modified Title VII so that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is considered gender discrimination. The law guarantees equal treatment of disabilities, including pregnancy, birth or related disabilities for companies employing 15 or more people. An employer may not fire an employee because she is pregnant or force an employee to take maternity leave.
Other responsibilities that employers owe to employees who become pregnant include:
- Allowing the pregnant employee to work as long as she can perform her job
- Guaranteeing job security while the employee is on leave
- Granting the same health, disability and sick-leave benefits as any other employee who has a medical condition
- Assigning modified tasks or alternate assignments if necessary
- Allowing the pregnant employee to accrue seniority and vacation, and be eligible for pay increases
- Providing the same benefits for unmarried pregnant women
However, if your company does not provide job security or benefits to other employees, it does not have to provide them to a pregnant woman.
What Can I Do If I Am Pregnant?
The federal law does not explicitly require that an employer grant pregnancy leave for a pregnant employee, but federal law does mandate that employers provide medical leave for a pregnant employee.
Under the Pregnancy Discrimination & Work Situations, the PDA has several laws employers must follow:
- Pregnancy Discrimination at Work: Employers are forbidden to discriminate an employee based on their pregnancy when it relates to any aspect to employment, firing, hiring, job benefits, layoff, training, health insurance, and promotions. An employee may bring action against the employer if they are discriminated based on any aspect of the employment.
- Temporary Disability: If you are pregnant and are temporary unable to perform any job related tasks do to your medical condition related to the pregnancy, the employer must treat you the same way they will treat any other employee who is temporarily disabled.
- Pregnancy Harassment: It is unlawful for a woman to be harassed in any way because of her pregnancy or medical condition related to the pregnancy. An employee can bring action against any employee, co-worker, supervisor, or employer for any type of harassment at work.
- Pregnancy and Maternity Leave: Under the PDA, if you are pregnant you have the right to take maternity or disability leave without pay.
Should I Consult an Attorney about My Pregnancy Discrimination Issues?
Pursuing a pregnancy discrimination claim is complicated because procedural laws vary depending on where and when you file your claim. An experienced employment lawyer can help you understand how the laws of your state affect your case. An employment attorney can also help you file the necessary paperwork and represent you in court.