Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

August 11, 2022
BY: Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O'Cathain & O'Cathain

Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace
Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is outlawed as a form of sex discrimination. However, as an experienced sex discrimination lawyer – including those who practice at the law firm of Barry P. Goldberg – can confirm, the prohibition of pregnancy discrimination has not eradicated it. Unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination continues to plague the American workforce in a variety of ways. Therefore, if you believe that you may be the victim of pregnancy discrimination at your place of employment, you are certainly not alone.
How Is Pregnancy Discrimination Defined?
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, pregnancy discrimination, “involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.” This means that pregnancy discrimination protections due not just safeguard individuals who are currently pregnant or have recently experienced childbirth from unlawful mistreatment. It also protects those who are suffering discrimination as a result of conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. This expansive protection is especially helpful for those workers who require reasonable accommodations due to fertility treatment, miscarriage, surrogacy, and related procreation challenges and processes.
What Does Pregnancy Discrimination Look Like?
Pregnancy discrimination is—primarily—prohibited as a form of sex discrimination as outlawed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is the law that first codified broad workplace safeguards against discrimination based on sex, religion, color, race, and national origin.
Pregnancy discrimination is—secondarily—prohibited by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amended Title VII to explicitly outlaw pregnancy discrimination as a form of sex discrimination. Prior to the passage of the PDA, this form of sex discrimination was only implied under Title VII, whereas the PDA rendered this safeguard crystal clear.
Under the PDA, pregnancy discrimination cannot be imposed on any aspect of employment from hiring to firing. Pregnancy discrimination cannot affect pay, the ability of workers to take protected leaves of absence, insurance coverage, fringe benefits, training, promotions, layoffs, assignments, or duties. Because federal law essentially recognizes pregnancy as a temporary form of disability, pregnant workers are entitled to reasonable accommodations as long as they don’t unduly burden their employers.
Legal Options
If you’ve been subjected to pregnancy discrimination in the workplace—or you suspect that you have—you may have opportunities for legal and financial recourse available to you. Connect with a lawyer to ask your questions and voice your concerns in a risk-free, confidential consultation setting.