Workplace Pregnancy Discrimination

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The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers from discriminating against women who are pregnant.  Under the law, pregnancy is considered a temporary medical disability.  Therefore, employers are required to treat pregnancy just as they would any other temporary medical disability.

What is Pregnancy Discrimination?

Pregnancy workplace discrimination is defined as discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy related conditions such as chronic or severe morning sickness, doctor-ordered bed rest, and recovery from childbirth.  Unfair dismissal due to pregnancy is one of the most common forms of pregnancy workplace discrimination.  Other examples of employer pregnancy discrimination include:

  • refusing to hire a pregnant applicant;
  • demoting a pregnant employee;
  • refusing to give a pregnant employee time off for doctor's appointments or other pregnancy related leave;
  • failing to provide health insurance that covers expenses for pregnancy and pregnancy related conditions for female employees or the spouses of male employees;
  • treating pregnant employees differently from other temporarily disabled employees;
  • denying the same or a similar job to a woman who returns to work after a pregnancy-related leave.

Unmarried Pregnancy Discrimination

Non-religious employers may not discriminate against unmarried pregnant women or single mothers unless they can demonstrate a legitimate business justification for doing so.  However, religious organizations are treated differently.  If a religious organization can demonstrate that it universally applies certain principals, such as refraining from pre-marital sex, to all employees, both male and female then it may fire an unmarried pregnant woman for violating those principals.  Additionally, pregnancy related benefits cannot be denied to unmarried employees.

Getting Legal Help

If you have been the victim of a workplace pregnancy termination or any other form of pregnancy workplace discrimination, you should contact an employment discrimination attorney or sexual harassment attorney.  Your attorney will evaluate your case to determine whether you have a valid claim and will help you recover any damages to which you may be entitled.

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