Labor and Employment

Pregnancy and Your Job

If you are married and pregnant or unmarried and pregnant, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) makes it unlawful for your employer to discriminate against you because of your pregnancy. If you have been discriminated against by an employer or prospective employer, you may file charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the state or local agency in your area that oversees discrimination laws. You must be able to prove that because of your pregnancy, your employer took negative action against you regarding your job or benefits.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It provides that discrimination due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions is unlawful sex discrimination. Women affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated in the same way as other job applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations.

The PDA covers hiring, pregnancy and maternity leave, health insurance and fringe benefits. Under the PDA:

  • An employer cannot refuse to hire you because of your pregnancy as long as you can do the major functions of the job.
  • If you are temporarily unable to do your job due to your pregnancy, your employer must treat you the same as any other temporarily disabled employee, such as by providing modified tasks, alternative assignments, disability leave or leave without pay.
  • Your employer must permit you to work as long as you are able to do your job.
  • Your employer must hold open a job for a pregnancy related absence for the same length of time jobs are held open for employees on sick or disability leave.
  • If your employer provides health insurance to its employees, the insurance has to cover expenses for pregnancy related conditions on the same basis as it does for other medical conditions.
  • Your employer cannot limit pregnancy related benefits to married employees.
  • You should be treated the same as other temporarily disabled employees for purposes of crediting of seniority, vacation calculation, pay increases or temporary disability benefits.

Family and Medical Leave Act

You may also be entitled to time off for pregnancy related illness or for the birth of your child under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Check with your Human Resources department to see if your employer must comply with the requirements of the FMLA.

Filing a Charge of Discrimination

If you believe that you have been discriminated against due to your pregnancy, you may file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and with your state or local government agency if your state or locality has an antidiscrimination law. There are time limits for filing these charges. Make sure you contact the EEOC as soon as possible after the discriminatory act happens to preserve your options for enforcing your rights.

Proving Discrimination

In order to prove pregnancy discrimination, you must show that the employer knew of your pregnancy. You must also show that, because of your pregnancy, your employer took some negative employment action against you or denied you a benefit given to other employees. Discrimination can also be proved by showing that the employer's action against you was part of a pattern or practice of discrimination by the employer against all pregnant employees or job applicants.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Can my employer fire me if I become pregnant?
  • Can my employer give me different job responsibilities if my pregnancy prevents me from doing my usual job?
  • What should I do if my employer tells me that I will not be getting a raise because I am pregnant?
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