Pregnancy Discrimination Act Q & A

On October 31, 1978, The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was approved as an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964. This amendment outlines that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions is considered unlawful sexual discrimination.  Under this act, employers are required to treat pregnant women the same way they treat any other employee who becomes ill or temporarily disabled.

Here are several questions and answers that will help you become more familiar with the details of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Who Is Covered

  • Pregnant women
  • Women recovering from childbirth
  • Women with a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth
  • Marital status is irrelevant
  • There are no age limits on any of the above conditions

What About Situations Of Miscarriage Or Abortion?

A miscarriage is a medical condition that is associated with a pregnancy, therefore, that would be covered.  Employers are not required to pay medical benefits for abortion unless it is a medical necessity to save the life of the mother.

Does My Company Have To Abide By The Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

Any company that employs 15 or more individuals must follow it.  That includes federal, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor organizations.

What Areas Are Covered Under The Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

Hiring, pregnancy and maternity leave, health insurance, and fringe benefits.

  • Hiring – employers cannot refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant, has a pregnancy related condition, or due to biases held by  a co-worker or customer.
  • Pregnancy and Maternity Leave – Employers must treat an employee with a pregnancy condition the same way it treats employees with other medical conditions when determining their ability to work.
      • If an employer requires a doctor's statement in order to grant leave it must be required for all individuals with medical conditions or none.
      • If an employer allows temporarily disabled employees to modify their work tasks or assignments then it must also allow this for an employee who is disabled due to a pregnancy issue.
      • Employers must allow a pregnant employee to work as long as they are able to perform their job.  They also cannot impose a required amount of leave before they are permitted to return to work after childbirth.
      • Employers must be consistent in the time frame that they hold a job position open for all employees out on sick or disability leave.
  • Health insurance – Coverage, reimbursement, maximum payment amounts for pregnancy related conditions must be the same as all other medical conditions.  Increased or higher deductibles are not allowed.
  • Fringe Benefits – Any and all benefits offered to employees on leave must be offered to employees on pregnancy related leave

If you have any questions about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act or about a situation you are experiencing at work, please call us toll free at 888-500-8469 or locally (Los Angeles, CA area) at 818-990-8300.

Additional Resources:

The Pregnancy Act of 1978  

US Department of Labor on The Pregnancy Act