Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 specifically prohibits discrimination due to one’s age, religion, gender, color or place of origin.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was amended by the Congress to include pregnancy discrimination. The PDA is an amendment which states that women shall not be treated less favorably than a non-pregnant employee regarding any aspect of employment.
Before the amendment, pregnancy discrimination was only partially covered in anti-discrimination law. However contrary to popular belief, we are still protected by certain provisions. The amendment to the law provided us with more comprehensive coverage and further helps protect us from unfair treatment because of our status as pregnant women.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act specifically mandates that employers treat their pregnant workers in the same way they treat all of their regular employees. Furthermore, the law prohibits employers and business owners from doing any acts that would prejudice expecting women by refusing to hire them, denying them opportunities once they are hired, or treating them differently from how they treat their male co-workers. These include:
1.Termination the employer cannot terminate the employee for no other legal ground. Pregnancy is not a valid reason to fire an employee especially when she can still perform her job effectively.
2.Refusal to hire an employer cannot refuse to hire a person simply because she is pregnant. When there is no other valid reason for the refusal and as long as she is qualified for the job regardless of her condition, then refusing to hire her is an actionable wrong;
3.Refusal to promote career advancement is every employees aim.
4.Suspension Suspension of employees on account of their pregnancy will hold the employee liable under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act;
5.Deprivation of Maternity Leave employees especially need maternity leave when they are about to deliver the child and after delivery. Depriving them of maternity leave constitutes discrimination;
6.Deprivation of Vacation Leave any regular employee has a right to a vacation leave. Depriving an employee this benefit solely on account of her condition is actionable; and
7.Deprivation of Fringe Benefits benefits related to pregnancy, which are being offered to single employees, should also be made available to married employees. Also, pregnant women must be treated the same way as employees on leave or on temporary disability.
Special treatment for workers with disabilities is a positive thing. These individuals have lesser opportunities to begin with, but this does not make it alright to treat them poorly. The law should be our last resort, not the first and most common response. What the law provides is a minimum standard and not necessarily the most desirable one in its current form.
As the workforce becomes increasingly diverse and gender-equality continues to improve, female workers are unfortunately too often finding themselves out of work or terminated because they plan on bringing a child into the world. Labor and employment attorneys are often the ones these women turn to in order to help them seek justice for their situation, as well as compensation for their time.
A study conducted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission showed an increase of over 31% in pregnancy discrimination complaints filed over the last decade (US EEOC: 312).
The numbers of pregnancy discrimination claims are growing. Some of the top reasons include:
1.More women became members of the work force
2.More women became aware of their employment rights
3.Corporations are downsizing and laying-off employees
If you feel that you have been discriminated by your employer or co-employees because of your pregnancy, you should get the services of an employment & labor law attorney.