The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

Normally, most women are very happy when they learn that they are pregnant. Soon-to-be parents often look forward to sharing the news with their friends and family, including their co-workers. You might feel like telling everyone at your job that you are pregnant. Before doing so, the law firm of Swartz Swidler thinks that it is important for you to understand your rights under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and was passed in 1978. The aim of the law is to protect women from pregnancy discrimination at their jobs. This law forbids employers from discriminating against employees based on childbirth, pregnancy or related health conditions. Only employers who have 15 or more employees are covered under the federal law. Employers with fewer than 15 employees are covered in New Jersey under the Law Against Discrimination, however. The federal PDA is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

How you are protected under the PDA

The EEOC reports that employers must treat pregnant women in the same way that they treat other applicants or employees who are not pregnant. Employers may not refuse to hire workers simply because they are pregnant. They also cannot ask pregnant women to undergo special tests to decide whether or not they can perform their job tasks unless they require the tests of all applicants or workers. Employers are also required to treat pregnant women who are unable to perform their job duties because of pregnancy-related medical conditions in the same manner that they treat other employees with temporary disabilities. Employers are prohibited from telling pregnant women that they cannot come back to their jobs after they give birth. Employer-provided health insurance plans must treat conditions that are related to pregnancy in the same way that the plans treat other medical conditions. Pregnant employees may not be asked to pay higher deductibles than other workers.

What to do when employers violate the PDA

After women disclose their pregnancies, many are terminated or passed over for promotions. For example, the EEOC received 5,795 pregnancy discrimination charges in 2011 alone. If you believe that your employer has acted in violation of your rights under the PDA, you have the right to file a charge with the EEOC. Contact the law office of Swartz Swidler to learn about your case.