4 pregnancy-related protections available under Title VII

Frank S. Clowney III

No matter your personal situation, facing a pregnancy can be a time of great physical and emotional turmoil. Even the most well-planned pregnancy can be subjected to multiple unexpected factors and challenging decisions. When your ability to make a living is negatively impacted, however, it is important to act quickly.

In recent years, employees have gained greater protection against workplace discrimination. Unfortunately, many organizations either plead ignorance to the various laws or ignore them completely. Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions is strictly prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

What pregnancy-related protections are included in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII?

  • Hiring: An employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy or related factors. These factors can include the prejudices of other employees or clients.
  • Pregnancy or maternity leave: Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs. Additionally, employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence the same length of time jobs are held open for employees on sick or disability leave.
  • Health insurance: Benefits must be provided to cover expenses for pregnancy-related conditions on the same basis as costs for other medical conditions. Additionally, pregnancy-related expenses must be reimbursed in the same manner as those for other medical conditions.
  • Fringe benefits: Pregnancy-related benefits cannot be limited to married employees. Additionally, employees on leave must be treated the same as other temporarily disabled employees regarding accrual of seniority, vacation calculation and pay increases.

While it is illegal to discriminate based on pregnancy, it is also illegal to retaliate against an employee who challenges discriminatory practices. Retaliation can include termination, transfer to a different department, demotion or other negative actions. Contacting an employment law attorney is a critical step in protecting yourself and your financial future.