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Know Your Rights: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

Posted by Eric Kingsley | Oct 03, 2023 | 0 Comments

Ever been stopped in your tracks by a law that seemed to exist only on paper? Ever felt like you're trying to scale an invisible wall, despite all the legal protection promised?

Welcome to the world of many pregnant employees. They have rights - they know it and yet...

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. It's there for them. It promises fair treatment at work when they need it most.

But is this act enough armor against unfair workplace discrimination? Or are we merely bandaging deep wounds with flimsy adhesive strips?

In this enlightening journey, we'll decode how exactly this Act protects our working moms-to-be. We'll delve into who should comply with its rules and who benefits from it.

We'll investigate the part played by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in all this.

Table Of Contents:

Understanding the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, or PDA, was a pivotal milestone in employment laws. An amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the PDA provided pregnant employees and job applicants with strong legal safeguards against discrimination.

Overview of the PDA

Pregnant workers often faced unfair treatment before this federal law came into play. The main goal? To level up civil rights by mandating that employers must treat pregnancy like any other medical condition when it comes to job assignments and leave policies.

This means if you're expecting a bundle of joy or dealing with related medical conditions, your employer can't show you the door based on these factors alone. In fact, your employer needs to accommodate you as they would any temporarily disabled employee - making adjustments for work load or offering disability leave when necessary.

The reality is clear: just because someone's about to become a parent doesn't mean their career has hit its due date.

The Scope of the PDA

You might be wondering who falls under this umbrella term 'employers.' Well, all businesses with at least 15 employees are required to comply with this act. It covers full-time jobs but also extends protections towards part-time gigs and internship positions too. And let's not forget hiring - showing bias during recruitment is also strictly off-limits according to the law.

The PDA Covers...
Businesses With More Than 15 Employees
Full-time Jobs
Part-time and Internship Positions
Hiring Practices

If you believe your employer is not adhering to the PDA, consult legal counsel without delay. A knowledgeable law firm can guide you through this process, helping to make sure your rights are upheld.

Role of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The EEOC, or U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, plays a crucial role in ensuring equal employment opportunities for all, including pregnant women.

EEOC's Enforcement Actions

This federal agency is not just about words; it walks the talk too. The EEOC handles pregnancy discrimination charges with gusto and finesse to make sure no job applicant faces discrimination based on their medical condition.

In fact, data from the EEOC reveals an increase in pregnancy discrimination charges over time. For instance, 2023 saw 3,184 such cases being filed by employees who felt wronged due to their maternity status.

Fighting against this form of sex discrimination isn't easy. But it's something that needs doing because at its core - it's about fairness and equality at work irrespective of your health condition or family plans.  When faced with these daunting tasks you should remember that you don't have to go about this alone.  A Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyer can help you with each step of the process and act as your advocate.

Monetary Benefits from EEOC Actions

Moving beyond enforcement actions, let's look at how victims can benefit monetarily from these initiatives taken up by the commission against employers violating federal law around employment opportunity norms.

In terms of numbers - get ready for some jaw-dropping stats here - those brave enough to raise their voice bagged a whopping $16.6 million collectively as compensation in 2023 alone. Receiving a huge discrimination lawsuit settlement amount might seem like hitting a jackpot, but remember they fought tooth and nail for justice under stressful circumstances while juggling doctor appointments and nursery planning sessions.

The EEOC does more than just file charges and get you your hard-earned money. They provide a solid support system to help pregnant employees understand their rights better.

This goes beyond just ensuring employers don't discriminate based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions - it also includes educating the workforce about laws like The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 that exists to protect them from unfair treatment at work due to their decision of embracing motherhood.

Key Takeaway: 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) works tirelessly to shield pregnant workers from workplace prejudice, handling an increasing number of cases over the years. Besides enforcing laws, it also applauds courageous victims who voice their concerns, dispensing millions in damages annually. The EEOC does more than just battle for your rights and funds - it's a key pillar of support.

Rights and Protections Under the PDA

Being pregnant should be a joyous time, not one clouded by worries about your job. Thanks to the PDA, pregnant employees have certain rights and safeguards in place.

Equal Treatment of Pregnant Employees

The core mandate of the PDA is straightforward - employers must treat pregnant workers just like any other employee with similar abilities or limitations. This protection extends beyond hiring decisions to include promotions, pay raises, and job assignments.

Though employers may need to make changes due to pregnancy-related limitations, they must treat the affected employee as any other temporarily disabled worker - no better or worse. But they must treat you as they would another worker who's temporarily disabled - no better or worse.

If a disability leaves an employee needing help with their work load, accommodations such as modified tasks might be provided without causing undue hardship on business operations. Similarly, a woman suffering from gestational diabetes could ask her employer for breaks to manage her medical condition - and under PDA provisions this request shouldn't be denied outright.

Pregnancy-Related Retaliation Is Prohibited

You've got enough going on during pregnancy without having fear of retaliation looming over you because you asserted your rights under the act. The good news? Such actions are prohibited by law.

As an experienced retaliation attorneys, we know that filing a complaint about discrimination based on pregnancy isn't easy - it takes courage. And it's absolutely illegal for employers to punish those brave souls who stand up against unfair treatment by firing them or cutting back their hours in response. Retaliation is a serious violation of the PDA, and employers who engage in it face stiff penalties. Read our article on how much do you get from a discrimination lawsuit to learn more.

Pregnancy Leave Policies

The PDA grants a considerable protection in the form of granting leave for medical conditions associated with pregnancy or childbirth.

Key Takeaway: 

Being comfortable and protected at work while you're expecting is key, and that's where the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) comes in. It makes sure pregnant employees get fair treatment across all job areas - from getting hired to moving up the ladder. If pregnancy affects your job performance, this law lets adjustments be made. And don't forget, bosses can't legally

FAQs in Relation to Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

What caused the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978?

The PDA was a response to Supreme Court rulings that pregnancy discrimination wasn't gender discrimination. This led Congress to pass the law, clarifying that treating pregnant employees unfavorably is indeed sex-based bias.

What is an example of Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

If a company refuses promotion or fires an employee due to her pregnancy, it's breaching the PDA. It mandates equal treatment for pregnant workers and those with related medical conditions.

What is the Fact Sheet of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978?

The Fact Sheet provides key information about PDA protections and how victims can report violations.

Is it hard to win a pregnancy discrimination case?

Pregnancy discrimination cases can be challenging but not impossible. Success depends on strong evidence proving unlawful behavior by employers against pregnant employees.


So, we've walked the path of understanding. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 is not just a name on paper but a beacon for pregnant employees.

We've unpacked how this Act demands fair treatment at work during pregnancy and beyond. No more invisible walls or deep wounds left unattended.

The role of the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission? Crucial. They're the ones making sure these rights don't get stepped on.

If you or your loved one were discriminated at work in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and would like expert assistance, contact Kinglsey & Kingsley Lawyers today. Our LA employment lawyers assist employees who have been wronged exclusively, and have helped recover hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for them. Call today for your free consultation.

About the Author

Eric Kingsley

Eric B. Kingsley is a 2023 "Best In Law" Award winner and has litigated over 150 class actions. He is also an AV peer rated attorney and a prolific speaker at various seminars on employment law.


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