Pregnancy Discrimination

It is unlawful for an employer to harass a person
who is age 40 or older because of his or her age.


Pregnancy Discrimination

Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), it is unlawful for an employer to treat an employee or applicant unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.  For instance, it is illegal for an employer to fire a female employee after learning that she is pregnant, even though she is still able to work for several months.

Further, if a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, an employer must treat her in the same way as it treats any other temporarily disabled employee.  For example, an employer may have to provide light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave to pregnant employees if it does so for other temporarily disabled employees.

It is also unlawful to harass a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.  Harassment can include, among other things, offensive remarks about a person’s appearance due to her pregnancy.

Harassment can come from just about anyone.  The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren’t very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

Notably, impairments resulting from pregnancy (for example, gestational diabetes or preeclampsia) may be disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).  Accordingly, an employer may have to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer, also known as an “undue hardship.”

Pregnancy Discrimination and Reasonable Accommodation: 

As noted above, the law requires an employer to accommodate an employee’s pregnancy, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer.

Examples of some common accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices.

Pregnant employees may have additional rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Pregnancy Discrimination and Undue Hardship:

An employer does not have to accommodate an employee’s pregnancy if doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer.  An accommodation may cause undue hardship if it is costly, compromises workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, infringes on the rights of other employees, or requires other employees to do more than their share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work.

Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination:
  • A pregnant worker needs to take time off to visit her doctor for prenatal care. She is docked and eventually disciplined for missing time from work, even though other workers who need ongoing medical treatment are neither docked nor disciplined.
  • A female employee tells her manager that she is pregnant.  Her manager fires her after learning the news, even though she is still able to work for several more months.
  • A pregnant worker at a fast food restaurant asks her manager if she can stop lifting heavy boxes during her pregnancy.  The manager says no, even though another employee did not have to lift boxes at work while recovering from surgery. The pregnant worker is forced to quit her job.
  • A female employee works at a company for several years and puts in many hours of overtime.  After she returns from having a baby, she tells her employer that she will not be able to put in as many hours of overtime.  Her position is then changed to a lower level and she gets less pay, while male coworkers in similar positions are allowed to cut back their overtime hours for personal reasons without any changes to their positions or pay.

Contact Mobilio Wood today

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