Pregnancy Discrimination

Both federal and state laws require employers to treat pregnant women fairly. This means that employed pregnant mothers should be treated the same as all other workers. When the equal rights of pregnant workers are violated, employers could be liable for the damage caused.

Federal law protecting pregnant women is codified in an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 called the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). This act outlines the rules and regulations concerning employer responsibilities as well as the rights of pregnant workers.

Employer Responsibility Under Pregnancy Discrimination Laws

Generally, employers have the responsibility to treat pregnant women fairly. An employer may not refuse to hire pregnant workers based on personal views about the inability of pregnant women to perform job duties. Neither can employers curtail or extend maternity leave in response to a pregnancy. Additionally, providing adequate accommodations when reasonable and providing fair health benefits are major requirements under pregnancy discrimination law.

Employers are prohibited from refusing to hire women based on prejudices about pregnancy including the prejudices of supervisors, co-workers, managers, or agents. Also, it is against the law to refuse to hire a pregnant worker due to a pregnancy related condition. These prohibitions on pregnancy discrimination go beyond hiring to cover all aspects of the employment process including termination, promotions, compensation, and benefits.

Pregnancy Discrimination and Maternity Leave

One of the ways that pregnancy discrimination can become an issue is via maternity leave. Employers sometimes make unlawful requirements concerning maternity leave which pregnant employees can address with litigation. For instance, it is unlawful for an employer to require that a pregnant employee remain on maternity leave until the birth of her child under certain circumstances.

The basic rule is that an employer must afford a pregnant employee the same type of leave as other “temporarily disabled” employees. If an employer, for example has policy in place that will hold a job open for workers who are temporarily disabled for a certain length of time, it must also hold the job open for a woman temporarily disabled due to pregnancy for the same length of time.

It is also important to note that pregnant women are entitled to a certain amount of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). A pregnant woman is entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn. Fathers are also entitled to this unpaid leave under the provisions of the FMLA.

What if a Pregnant Employee is Unable to Perform Her Job Duties?

If the reason a pregnant worker is unable to perform her job duties qualifies as a type of disability regulated by the American Disabilities Act (ADA), pregnant workers could have additional causes of action to consider beyond those allowed in the PDA. Additionally, the ADA requires that employers provide accommodations at work such as shifting work schedules or providing lighter job duties.

For Assistance With Your Pregnancy Discrimination Issue…

Pregnancy discrimination is an area of law that employers should not overlook. It requires that pregnant workers be treated the same as all other workers, and that their work affairs remain free of prejudice in all areas of employment. For assistance with your pregnancy discrimination issue, rely on the thorough expertise of the attorneys at the California Employment Legal Group.

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