Rights afforded by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

When women enter the work force, they do not often consider how getting pregnant might impact their ability to work. Women employees in Louisiana and other states across the nation might plan their pregnancy in order to not interrupt their careers. In some cases, females might decide to quit their job to be a stay at home mother. But for those remaining seeking to maintain their current position of employment, they should understand that they are afforded rights so they are not treated unfairly or discriminated against due to their pregnancy or taking maternity leave.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it affords rights to females during and after pregnancy. It protects pregnant women who are seeking employment, are currently employed or are on maternity leave. Furthermore, it covers issues and concerns related to health insurance and fringe benefits.

For pregnant women seeking employment, the Act protects them from being refused employment because of their pregnancy. For employees that are pregnant, their employer may not single them out because of their pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. If pregnant women are temporarily unable to preform their jobs, their employer must treat them as they would any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, they could adjust or modify their assignments or allow them to take disability leave.

With regards to health insurance, any employer sponsored health insurance must provide coverage for pregnancy-related conditions and expenses. In addition, the employer must provide the same level of health benefits for spouses of male employees. With regards to fringe benefits, all employees, not just married employees, must have access to pregnancy related benefits. If they provide benefits to workers on leave, employers must also provide leave for employees dealing with pregnancy-related conditions.

This and the Family Medical Leave Act provide rights to pregnant employees. If a pregnant employee believes they are not being fairly or are not being afforded the rights of these Acts by their employer, then they should seek advice about their options and whether they could file a cause of action for the damages suffered by this situation.

Source: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Facts About Pregnancy Discrimination," accessed on Jan. 12, 2015