Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers cannot treat someone who is pregnant or has a pregnancy related conditions any differently than other employees or applicants with similar work abilities.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which amended the Civil Rights Act, applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments.
The following protections apply under The Pregnancy Discrimination Act:
- Hiring and Working Conditions: As an employer, you cannot refuse to hire a woman due to a pregnancy or a related condition, as long as she is able to fulfill the requirements of the position. It is also unlawful to discriminate based on pregnancy when it comes to other aspects of employment, including pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, firing and any other term or condition of employment.
- Temporary Disability and Maternity Leave: If a pregnant employee becomes temporarily disabled due to the pregnancy, they must be treated the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. If you as an employer allow temporarily disabled employees to modify tasks or perform alternative assignments, then you must also allow an employee who is temporarily disabled, due to pregnancy, to do the same. The same is true when it comes to disability leave. Employers are required to hold open a job for a pregnancy related absence the same length of time that jobs are held open for employees on sick leave.
- Health Insurance: Any health insurance provided to employees must cover expenses for pregnancy related conditions on the same basis as costs for other medical conditions. In addition, pregnancy-related expenses must be reimbursed in the same method as those incurred for other medical conditions.
- Fringe Benefits: Accrual and crediting of seniority, vacation calculation and pay increases during a leave must be handled in the same manner for a pregnant employee on leave as it would be for any other temporarily disabled employee.
It’s important to treat a pregnant employee in the same manner that you would treat any employee in all aspects of employment. If you have questions or concerns regarding a pregnant employee at your workplace, please contact BCN Services at 1-800-891-9911 or visit us here.
Amanda Cline, Partnership Manager