what does the pregnancy discrimination act protects

What Does the Pregnancy Discrimination Act Protect?

By Thomas McKinney
Partner

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It put importance protections against workplace discrimination occurring on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or other, related, medical conditions. Here, we will get into more of the specifics regarding the protections provided by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

What Does the Pregnancy Discrimination Act Protect?

Workplace discrimination refers to treating an employee or potential employee unfavorably in relation to any terms or conditions of employment as well as other employment actions which can include hiring, firing, pay rate, job responsibilities, promotions, demotions, training, and the receipt of employment benefits such as vacation, sick leave, and health insurance, among other things. Pregnancy discrimination refers to an employee suffering adverse employment actions based on pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.

It is even asserted and found valid in some courts that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects against discrimination if you are not pregnant, but are planning to become pregnant. This would mean that an employer would be prohibited from changing the terms of employment based on something like expectations about how pregnancy may impact your job. While some courts do not believe that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act covers planning for pregnancy, others assert that there is clearly a valid basis for such protection as it is a solid example of sex discrimination. Only women can become pregnant, after all.

An employer cannot discriminate against pregnancy-related medical conditions. There are a number of impairments that can be pregnancy-related. This includes doctor-ordered bed rest, gestational diabetes, or pregnancy-induced hypertension known as preeclampsia. In addition to protection under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, such disabilities may also be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. An employer is thus expected to provide reasonable accommodations for such disabilities unless it would cause undue hardship. Reasonable accommodation may involve lightened duties or job leave.

If a pregnancy-related condition causes temporary disability, an employer must treat the pregnant employee in the same way that it would any other employee with a temporary disability. This means that if a temporarily disabled employee is allowed to take disability leave, then an employee with a temporary disability related to pregnancy must be allowed to do the same. This, however, works both ways. For instance, if an employer requires submission of a doctor’s statement pertaining to an employee’s ability to work prior to granting temporary disability leave, then the same can be required of an employee with a temporary disability related to pregnancy. Essentially, the rights and responsibilities of employees claiming temporary disability must remain standard regardless of whether or not the disabling condition is pregnancy-related or related to something else.

Employment Law Attorneys

Know your rights. If you have any questions about your rights as an employee or your employer’s responsibilities to you as their employee, do not hesitate to reach out to the trusted employment law attorneys at Castronovo & McKinney. Contact us today.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.