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What is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is a pivotal law that safeguards expectant mothers' rights in the workplace. It prohibits employment discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, ensuring fair treatment and equal opportunities. Have you ever wondered how this act impacts maternity leave or job security? Join us as we explore its profound influence on working women's lives.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 is an amendment to Title VII of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964. It essentially makes it illegal for companies that have at least 15 employees to discriminate against women because they are pregnant or have had a baby. It also prohibits discrimination against women because of medical issues that may result from pregnancy or childbirth. The act provides certain protections for women who apply for jobs while pregnant as well as those who are already established in employment during pregnancy.

One of the protections afforded by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is related to hiring situations. The language of the act makes it illegal for United States employers to refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant or because she has a condition that is related to pregnancy or childbirth. Instead, an employer is supposed to consider pregnant job applicants in the same way they consider other applicants. If a pregnant woman is well qualified for a job, the act is supposed to protect her from being passed over because she is expecting a child.

A pregnant woman holding her stomach.
A pregnant woman holding her stomach.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act also includes languages that covers leaves of absence and other absences from work. The act prohibits employers from forcing pregnant women into taking leave time. If they are able to handle their job duties, they cannot be forced to take leave. If a pregnant women is temporarily unable to work, however, an employer is supposed to treat her just as he would another employee who is temporarily disabled. If that employee would be allowed to modify his schedule, take on less strenuous tasks, or stay home on disability leave, the employer must allow a pregnant woman to do the same.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes is illegal to discriminate against a woman who is pregnant if her company has more than 15 people employed.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes is illegal to discriminate against a woman who is pregnant if her company has more than 15 people employed.

Absences are also covered in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. If a pregnant woman cannot work because of a condition related to her pregnancy, she must be allowed to return to work once she's recovered. Her employer cannot insist that she wait until her child is born. An employer is also prohibited from compelling a woman to stay home for a particular length of time after having a baby. He must also hold a job for her for as long as he would normally hold one for any other temporarily disabled employee.

As far as medical and other pregnancy-related benefits are concerned, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires employers to cover conditions related to pregnancy in the same manner that they cover other health issues. Abortion is an exception to this rule, and coverage is usually only required if the pregnancy puts a woman's life at risk. Additionally, this act prohibits employers from denying pregnancy benefits to employees who are not married.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. It was enacted in 1978 as an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the PDA mandates that pregnant employees must be treated the same as other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. This includes aspects of employment such as hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, and benefits like health insurance.

What types of employers are covered by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

Employers with 15 or more employees are covered by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. This includes private employers, state and local governments, educational institutions, employment agencies, and labor organizations. The Act applies to both current employees and job applicants, ensuring that pregnancy-related discrimination is prohibited across various stages of employment.

Can an employer refuse to hire a pregnant applicant under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

No, an employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant applicant if she is able to perform the major functions of the job. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act ensures that a woman cannot be denied a job or promotion merely because she is pregnant or has a pregnancy-related condition. Hiring decisions must be based on the applicant's qualifications and ability to perform the job, not on pregnancy or related conditions.

Are employers required to provide special accommodations for pregnant employees?

Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an employer must provide the same level of accommodation to pregnant employees as it does to other employees with similar abilities or disabilities. Additionally, if an employer provides accommodations to temporarily disabled employees, it must also do so for those who are pregnant. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may also require accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions that qualify as disabilities.

What should an employee do if they believe they have experienced pregnancy discrimination?

If an employee believes they have experienced pregnancy discrimination, they should first report the issue to their employer according to the company's grievance procedures. If the situation is not resolved, they can file a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The charge should be filed within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act. The EEOC will then investigate the claim and determine the appropriate course of action.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a UnitedStatesNow writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a UnitedStatesNow writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

discographer

I'm so happy that we have laws protecting women's rights at the workplace. During my mother's time, women were often laid off when they were pregnant. Some employers refused to hire women fearing that they may get pregnant.

stoneMason

@serenesurface-- I'm not an expert on this but I think those points are also covered by anti-discrimination laws. A woman cannot be fired, given a different job or her income reduced because she is pregnant. A woman can easily take to court any employer who does this and I don't think it would be difficult to prove either.

So there are no exceptions to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. If anyone has concern that their rights are not given to them or they are being discriminated against due to pregnancy, a legal adviser should be consulted.

serenesurface

Although it is unlawful to discriminate against a woman at a workplace because she is pregnant, I think it does occur. This doesn't necessarily mean that the woman is not hired or fired when she is pregnant, but she may be given a different position or her income may be lowered. Companies who don't want a pregnant employee may look for other ways to make the job less desirable by her. I'm sure that this is more of an issue in some industries than others. I think it's an issue in media for example.

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    • A pregnant woman holding her stomach.
      By: anna
      A pregnant woman holding her stomach.
    • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes is illegal to discriminate against a woman who is pregnant if her company has more than 15 people employed.
      By: Maygutyak
      The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes is illegal to discriminate against a woman who is pregnant if her company has more than 15 people employed.