5 Fast Facts About Pregnancy Discrimination
Pregnancy discrimination is when a woman is treated in an unfavorable manner, whether job applicant or employee, because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition that is related to pregnancy or childbirth. Here are five facts about pregnancy discrimination.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) Prohibits Discrimination Based on Pregnancy
The PDA, which was enacted in 1978, applies to any area of employment, including hiring, firing, compensation, job assignments, promotions, layoff, job training, benefits—such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.
Pregnancy or Childbirth-Related Temporary Disabilities Are Managed the Same as Other Temporary Disabilities
If a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth renders a woman temporarily unable to perform her job, her employer must treat her in the same manner as other temporarily disabled employees.
For instance, if an employer makes accommodations for temporarily disabled employees in the way of light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave, those provisions must also be made for pregnant employees.
Also, impairments that result from pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia—which is a condition caused by pregnancy-induced hypertension and protein in the urine—may be disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
An employer may have to provide a reasonable accommodation, like leave or changes that enable an employee to perform her job, for a disability related to pregnancy (without undue hardship on the employer). The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 makes it easier to demonstrate that a medical condition is a covered disability.
It’s Against the Law to Harass a Woman Because of Pregnancy, Childbirth, or a Pregnancy or Childbirth-Related Medical Condition
As defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex—including sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy—national origin, older age (beginning at age 40), disability, or genetic information (including family medical history).
Harassment is illegal when it occurs so often or so severely that it creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment, or when it results in an unfavorable employment decision—for example the victim being fired or demoted.
The harasser may be the victim’s co-worker, supervisor, a supervisor in another area, or someone who isn’t an employee of the employer, such as a customer or a client.
Pregnant Women Can Take Disability Leave, or Leave Without Pay
Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), an employer that allows temporarily disabled employees to take disability leave or leave without pay, must also make the same allowances for an employee who is temporarily disabled due to pregnancy.
If an employer requires that employees submit a doctor’s statement regarding their ability to work before approving leave or paying sick benefits, the employer may also require employees affected by pregnancy-related conditions to do the same. An employer may not, however, single out pregnancy-related conditions for special procedures to ascertain an employee’s ability to work.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 enables a new parent, including foster and adoptive parents, to be eligible for 12 weeks of leave—unpaid or paid if the employee has earned or accrued it—that may be used for care of the new child. To be eligible, though, an employee must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months before taking the leave, and the employer must have a specified number of employees.
Mothers Can Nurse at Work
Under a provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), nursing mothers may have the right to express milk in the workplace. (Express milk: expel milk from the breast manually, or via pump, to be stored and fed to a baby at a later time).