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 amended employer coverage for New York, effective February 8, 2020.
Updated to reflect forthcoming Pittsburgh paid sick leave law.
Numerous legislative changes take effect on or about January 1, affecting minimum wage rates, employee leaves, health care benefits and more. HR should take note of these legal developments and take appropriate steps to comply.
Updated to reflect amendments to California Family Rights Act regarding flight crew employees, effective January 1, 2020.
Oregon covered employers seeking to educate employees about the availability of reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions and to demonstrate compliance with Oregon law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Updated to reflect information on the forthcoming implementation date of the paid family leave law's new hire notice requirements.
Updated to reflect legal developments regarding the forthcoming San Antonio paid sick leave law.
Walmart has agreed to pay $14 million to resolve a class action Pregnancy Discrimination Act case. The suit accused the nation's largest retailer of denying pregnant women similar accommodations that it provided for workers with disabilities.
Many notable employment law developments recently took effect in Maine, including new wage theft and noncompete agreement laws, new pregnancy accommodation requirements and more.
HR guidance on how to confront the legal challenges in managing an employee who is pregnant and preventing discrimination based on pregnancy.