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Three key facts about pregnancy discrimination

On Behalf of | May 19, 2022 | Discrimination |

Pregnancy discrimination is a major problem in Tennessee and beyond. Although this form of workplace discrimination is unlawful, pregnant women are often subject to unfair treatment in the workplace, such as being passed over for promotions or being fired for taking pregnancy leave. Here are three key facts about pregnancy discrimination to help you better understand the rights of pregnant women in the workplace.

1. Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination

Pregnancy is a protected status under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 designed to prevent and penalize unlawful sex discrimination on the basis of reproductive status.

Under this law, employers are prohibited from discriminating against women for pregnancy status or being of childbearing age in decisions involving:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Pay
  • Promotion
  • Other employment benefits

Unfortunately, the PDA only applies when a workplace has at least 15 employees, but regional laws may apply in some circumstances.

2. Certain jobs are protected during maternity leave

The PDA mandates that if an employee takes maternity leave, her employer is required to hold her job open for the same length of time it would be held for someone taking a typical sick leave. This means that if an employer allows employees with temporary disabilities to take leave (whether paid or unpaid), an employee-facing pregnancy-related temporary disability must be allowed to take the same leave.

If this law doesn’t protect your job, you may be eligible for other forms of protection. For instance, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 allows employees who fall under certain eligibility criteria to take 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave to care for a new child.

3. You cannot be fired for filing a pregnancy discrimination claim

If you believe your employer has violated any of these laws, it is a good idea to take action by filing a formal complaint with the help of a workplace discrimination lawyer. While some women may fear retaliation for filing a complaint, such retaliation is illegal and could qualify you for further compensation.

Because pregnancy discrimination is so prevalent, it is crucial to remain vigilant and aware of the rights of pregnant women. Business leaders and lawmakers should not deny opportunities to a woman simply because she is expecting a child or has the capacity to be pregnant. By standing together, everyone in the workplace can ensure that pregnant women are treated with respect and dignity.