Overview: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to Title VII which protects pregnant individuals from applicant and employee discrimination. Further, some state and local laws similarly prohibit discrimination against employees and applicants who are pregnant. Pregnant individuals also may be protected under federal and state family and medical leave acts. In order to be protected based on pregnancy, the employer must know that the individual is pregnant. To avoid pregnancy discrimination, employers should develop a policy against discrimination and provide employees and supervisors with training so that pregnant employees receive fair and equal treatment. Further, an employer needs to understand that it is required to treat pregnant employees the same as other similarly situated non-pregnant employees.
Trends: Employers should be aware that legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate that would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees unless it would cause undue hardship for the employer. A number of states such as California, Maryland and New Jersey as well as cities like New York City and Philadelphia have already made this a requirement. Further, the EEOC has recently filed a number of pregnancy discrimination lawsuits and is aggressively pursuing pregnancy discrimination in the workplace through its Strategic Enforcement Plan. It has labeled pregnancy discrimination as an emerging issue and it is working to combat pregnancy discrimination and ensure pregnancy accommodation. Employers should be alert and keep up with the rapid changes in this area of the law as it has become a hot topic in employment.
Author: Beth Zoller, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect the forthcoming Austin paid sick leave law.
Updated to include forthcoming Vermont recreational marijuana law.
Updated to reflect amendments to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination regarding breastfeeding employees, effective January 8, 2018.
As mandated by the Vermont Department of Labor, every Vermont employer must post the Vermont Accommodations for Pregnant Employees Poster.
Updated to reflect the New Parent Leave Act, amendments to the California temporary disability and paid family leave benefits law, and applicability of San Francisco's Paid Parental Leave Ordinance to smaller employers, effective January 1, 2018.
A San Francisco employer may use this form when an employee requests a lactation accommodation pursuant to the San Francisco Lactation in the Workplace Ordinance.
As mandated by the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, covered employers should use the San Francisco, California, Lactation Accommodation Policy to to establish guidelines promoting a work environment that supports breastfeeding; to establish that employees have a right to request lactation accommodation; and to comply with San Francisco's Lactation in the Workplace Ordinance.
Updated to include amendments to the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act regarding pregnancy discrimination and accommodation and the definition of 'physically disabled', effective October 1, 2017.
HR guidance on how to confront the legal challenges in managing an employee who is pregnant and preventing discrimination based on pregnancy.