Pregnancy Discrimination

Abramson Labor Group – Pregnancy Discrimination

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was an addition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act was added to Section 701 in order to protect women who were pregnant, had given birth to a child, or had medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. After the Pregnancy Discrimination Act passed in 1978, employers could no longer use a woman’s pregnancy as a reason to fire her, refuse to hire her, or deny certain benefits.

As another part the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, employers couldn’t refuse medical insurance coverage to a woman who needed an abortion to save her life. If a woman had an abortion and required sick days or disability leave during the recovery, the employer could not deny those paid days off.

If a woman is refused a promotion because her boss believes her pregnancy will keep her from being as productive as another employer, that counts as pregnancy discrimination. If a pregnant woman is denied a job because the employer doesn’t want to have to deal with maternity leave in several months, that’s another example of pregnancy discrimination. Both are illegal, and the employer can be held accountable for breaking that federal law.

How the Laws Protect You

There are two laws to pay attention to when you’re having difficulties with attitudes or comments from your co-workers and employers. Pregnancy discrimination laws protect you from many things.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects you from being treated differently. The Americans With Disabilities Act also protects you by legally requiring your employer to accommodate your situation until you’re well enough to resume normal duties.

Few pregnancies are exactly alike. You could have one pregnancy that goes well, but the next requires you to take it a little easier. You may need to sit down more and avoid lifting heavy items. If your doctor recommends you back off certain duties of your job, your employer cannot discriminate. It’s not any different to it being illegal for your employer telling a worker with a back injury or broken arm to keep performing the same tasks.

These are all examples of situations where the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is being violated:

  • Your boss or co-workers make rude or hurtful comments about your pregnancy or your need to take time off due to complications or after you’ve given birth.
  • Your boss or co-workers harass you because you’re pregnant.
  • Your employer refuses to accommodate you during your pregnancy. For example, you need to go to the bathroom frequently due to pressure on the bladder, but your boss starts refusing to let you leave your desk until a certain amount of time has passed.
  • Your employer fires you over someone else simply because of your pregnancy.
  • An employer refuses to hire or promote you because of your pregnancy.
  • Your employer keeps cutting the hours you work, without your request, because of your pregnancy.
  • You’re demoted to a different job and/or pay level because you’re pregnant.
  • Your employer or co-workers make rude or hurtful comments about needing time to pump milk/use a breast pump. If you’re fired or treated differently because of your need to pump milk for your newborn, that’s also discrimination that’s covered under pregnancy discrimination laws.
  • Your employer denies you the opportunity to return to your job after your maternity leave ends.

There’s also the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that guarantees you up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off with your newborn. Fathers are entitled to this same benefit. FMLA covers employees as long as they’ve been at that job for 12 months, have at least 1,250 hours of work in over that 12-month period, and work for a company that has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile area. This law could help you manage unfair requests that you shorten your maternity leave.

We’ll Help You Understand Your Rights

If you’ve been treated unfairly, it’s important to speak up. You don’t have to accept the mistreatment as something that “just happens” or “comes with the territory.” It’s wrong, and you need to speak up.

Knowing what employers can and cannot do may seem confusing. You may not question something your boss says or does simply out of confusion regarding current laws. If your boss or co-workers treat you differently because you’re pregnant, you might be a victim of discrimination. Talk to a team of experts. Abramson Labor Group knows the ins and outs of pregnancy discrimination laws and is happy to talk to you about your situation.