Pregnancy discrimination, part 2: legal protections
Let’s continue our discussion of legal protections against pregnancy discrimination.
As we noted in the first part of this post, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination by employers against women based on pregnancy, childbirth and associated conditions.
In this part of the post, let’s dig a bit deeper into the types of conduct that the PDA prohibits.
First of all, we should note that the protections of the PDA do not merely kick in when a woman becomes pregnant. These protections apply as early as the hiring process. Employers are not allowed to discriminate against female job applicants by asking during interviews about whether the applicant is planning to get pregnant at some point.
The anti-discrimination protections continue when the job begins. Employers are not permitted to refuse promotions to women who might get pregnant or deny to them job assignments or other benefits that are offered to men.
Once a woman does become pregnant, an employer is required to allow her to work as long as she is able to perform the job. In other words, it is not acceptable for an employer to use pregnancy as a pretext for trying to push a woman out of her job – before, during or after maternity leave.
To be sure, it sometimes happens that a woman who is experiencing a difficult pregnancy may become temporarily disabled. Keep in mind, however, that employers are required to treat such an employee in the same manner as any other employee with a temporary disability.
In practice, this may mean allowing for light-duty or other modified work assignments.
Source: EEOC.gov, “Pregnancy Discrimination,” Accessed June 5, 2014