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Philadelphia Discrimination Lawyers: EEOC Updates Enforcement Guidance for Pregnant Employees

March 16th, 2015

Pregnancy is considered a temporary disability under the law. Employers must provide equal benefits and treatment to pregnant employees as they do with employees who have other types of temporary disabilities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that in 2013, 5,342 pregnancy discrimination claims were filed and employers paid out over $17 million as a result.

Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978 which forbids any type of discrimination when it comes to the individual’s employment.  This can include hiring, promotions, job assignments, layoffs, benefits and any other terms of employment. Employers must provide accommodations to women who are experiencing a medical condition related to the pregnancy that does not allow them to perform their usual job responsibilities.  The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. This act also covers childbirth and related medical conditions.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act is Updated

In July 2014, the EEOC announced updated information with regards to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The information released provides enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination, which increases protection for pregnant employees. The new information is intended to be used as a guide as it is not law. However, these guidelines are highly indicative of how the EEOC would rule in pregnancy discrimination charges that are brought forth to the agency.

The EEOC Enforcement Guidance provides clarification on important issues within the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Specifically:

  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protection extends beyond current employees who are pregnant to also include their past pregnancies or an employee’s plan to become pregnant.
  • The EEOC states that an employer cannot force a pregnant employee to take leave nor can they reassign the worker to a different position even though they feel it is in the best interest of the employee.
  • Some employers feel it is lawful to exclude some pregnant employees from certain jobs because not being pregnant is a true requirement of the job. The EEOC states that an employer must use objective, confirmable skills of the job and not subjective criteria.
  • It has been established that the EEOC recognizes that lactation is a medical condition related to pregnancy. If an employee who has this condition is treated unfairly, they may be able to pursue a pregnancy-related discrimination claim.
  • The Enforcement Guidance states that although the employee’s pregnancy is healthy with no problems, the employee must be provided the same accommodations that would be given to an employee who likewise cannot perform their job.
  • Use of contraceptives may not be considered in employment decisions. Providing health insurance that excludes coverage of prescription contraceptives violates Title VII.
  • Parental leave which is different from medical leave due to childbirth or recovering from childbirth must be provided to both men and women in similar situations and on the same terms.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers of Sidney L. Gold & Associates Promote Fair Treatment of Pregnant Workers

If you have been a victim of workplace discrimination due to a pregnancy, contact the experienced Philadelphia employment lawyers of Sidney L. Gold & Associates. We represent employees who have been victims of workplace discrimination throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Our offices are conveniently located in Center City Philadelphia. Call us today at 215-569-1999 for a free case review or contact us online.


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