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Pregnancy Discrimination at Your Job

What protections do pregnant employees have in the workplace? Thanks to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), which expands Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination against pregnant employees in the workplace is prohibited under federal law.. The law specifically states that Title VII’s language about the prohibition of discrimination “because of sex” or “on the basis of sex” also includes but is not limited to discrimination “because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” In other words, if a woman is discriminated against at work because she is pregnant, she may be able to file an employment discrimination claim under Title VII.

Despite the fact that the law specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or childbirth, we continue to see stories about women being the targets of workplace discrimination for this very reason. To better understand what laws protect you against discrimination at work , it is important to understand how the PDA works and what it specifically prohibits.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act Protects Women at Work

According to the PDA, employers must treat women who are affected by pregnancy “in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.” What does this mean specifically? The law requires many different things of employers when it comes to women and pregnancy. Employers are prohibited from the following:

  • Refusing to hire a woman because she is pregnant, as long as she can perform the primary functions of her job;

  • Refusing to hire a pregnant woman because of a personal prejudice against pregnant employees or because of the prejudices associated with co-workers, clients, and/or customers;

  • Discrimination against pregnant women in pay;

  • Discrimination against pregnant women in job assignments;

  • Discrimination against pregnant women in promotions, layoffs, or firing;

  • Discrimination against pregnant women in training or other benefits;

  • Requiring only pregnant women to undergo medical clearance procedures;

  • Failing to permit a pregnant employee to work when she can perform her jobs;

  • Refusing to allow a worker who is disabled for pregnancy-related reasons to the same disability leave as other temporarily disabled employees;

  • Refusing to hold open a job for a pregnant worker if that job would be held open for other employees who are sick or on temporary disability leave;

  • Refusing to cover expenses for pregnancy under the company’s health insurance plan;

  • Refusing to reimburse pregnancy-related expenses in the same manner as other medical conditions; and

  • Refusing to provide equal access to benefits for pregnant women when other workers on medical leave have access to such benefits.

Even still, this list is not exhaustive.

Seek Advice from a Florida Labor Lawyer

In addition to the laws presented above, there is additional support for those making claims of pregnancy discrimination. Specifically, another case in Florida, involving a woman who claims she was discriminated against at work due to her being pregnant, and which was ruled on by the Florida Supreme Court, has helped strengthen laws barring discrimination based on pregnancy. Indeed, the case of Delva v. The Continental Group led to a ruling that “discrimination based on gender can cover claims of pregnancy discrimination,” which further resulted in a bill being passed by the Florida legislature amending the state’s Civil Rights Act by “adding pregnancy to race, sex, and physical disability as protected classes.”

Unfortunately, although the PDA expressly prohibits sex discrimination based on pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, this type of discrimination continues to take place. For instance, in the case of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Quality Solutions, LLC, the parties reached a settlement for more than $20,000 for an employee’s complaints related to pregnancy discrimination. A spokesperson for the EEOC explained that the case involved discrimination in hiring and clarified that “an employer cannot make hiring decisions based on what it thinks is in the best interest of a pregnant applicant.” Indeed, those are decisions that women have the right to make for themselves.

If you have questions or concerns about filing a pregnancy discrimination claim, an experienced Florida labor lawyer can assist you. Contact Scott Wagner & Associates, P.A. to discuss your case today.

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Florida 561-653-0008 California 213-377-5200
* Cathleen Scott is licensed to practice in Florida only.

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