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What is Pregnancy Discrimination?

March 29th, 2018

By Alidz Oshagan

What is Pregnancy Discrimination?In 1978, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) as an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The PDA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or applicants for employment on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. An employer is prohibited from discriminating with respect to any term and condition of employment, including hiring, firing, wages, and fringe benefits. The PDA also prohibits harassment on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition.

The PDA requires employers to provide employees with a job accommodation due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition if the employer provides job accommodations to others who are similarly limited for reasons other than pregnancy. Examples of accommodations may include modifying lifting or standing requirements, modifying work schedules and breaks, modifying the dress code, or modifying office furniture.

The PDA also protects employees who go on leave due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Specifically, an employer must hold the employee’s job open on the same basis as it does for other employees who go on leave. The PDA does not prescribe a specific length of leave time, however. Rather, leave time for an event such as childbirth is protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”), [AW2] which provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child or other serious health condition. For more information about the FMLA, check out our FMLA Part I, Part II, and Part III blog post series.

The PDA is a federal law that applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is the federal agency that handles charges filed based on pregnancy discrimination. Since 2010, the EEOC has received over 27,000 charges alleging violations of the PDA and received 3,174 in 2017 alone. Be aware that state and local laws regarding pregnancy discrimination may provide protections that go above and beyond what is provided for by the PDA.

If you believe you have been discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, contact Willig, Williams & Davidson at 215-656-3600.

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