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Pregnancy Discrimination Guidelines from the EEOC

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Update July 16, 2014:  On July 14, 2014 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated and amended the enforcement guidelines for pregnancy discrimination.

Pregnancy Discrimination Guidelines from the EEOC

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 provides that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions must be treated the same way as other individuals with temporary disabilities. Therefore, a pregnant woman cannot be treated differently from any other employer with any other disability.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) Requirements

1. An employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and

2. Women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions must be treated the same as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.

Amended Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) Requirements

Title VII, as amended by the PDA, prohibits discrimination based on the following:

  • Current Pregnancy
  • Past Pregnancy
  • Potential or Intended Pregnancy
  • Medical Conditions Related to Pregnancy or Childbirth

Pregnancy Discrimination Requirements (from the EEOC Fact Sheet for Small Businesses)

The PDA requires that a covered employer treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. The PDA covers all aspects of employment, including firing, hiring, promotions, and fringe benefits (such as leave and health insurance benefits). Pregnant workers are protected from discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, and potential pregnancy.

  • Current pregnancy. Under the PDA, an employer cannot fire, refuse to hire, demote, or take any other adverse action against a woman if pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition was a motivating factor in the adverse employment action. This is true even if the employer believes it is acting in the employee's best interest.
  • Past Pregnancy. An employer may not discriminate against an employee or applicant based on a past pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition or childbirth. For example, an employer may not fire a woman because of pregnancy during or at the end of her maternity leave.
  • Potential Pregnancy. An employer may not discriminate based on an employee's intention or potential to become pregnant. For example, an employer may not exclude a woman from a job involving processing certain chemicals out of concern that exposure would be harmful to a fetus if the employee became pregnant.  Concerns about risks to a pregnant employee or her fetus will rarely, if ever, justify sex-specific job restrictions for a woman of childbearing capacity.
  • Medical Condition Related to Pregnancy or Childbirth. An employer may not discriminate against an employee because of a medical condition related to pregnancy and must treat the employee the same as others who are similar in their ability or inability to work but are not affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Read More: EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues | Pregnancy and Employment Questions and Answers

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