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Facts about Pregnancy Discrimination

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or relatedmedical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination underTitle VII. Women affected by pregnancy or related conditions mustbe treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees withsimilar abilities or limitations.


An employer cannot refuse to hire a woman because of herpregnancy related condition as long as she is able to perform themajor functions of her job. An employer cannot refuse to hire herbecause of its prejudices against pregnant workers or theprejudices of co-workers, clients or customers.

Pregnancy and Maternity Leave

An employer may not single out pregnancy related conditions forspecial procedures to determine an employee's ability to work.However, an employer may use any procedure used to screen otheremployees' ability to work. For example, if an employer requiresits employees to submit a doctor's statement concerning theirinability to work before granting leave or paying sick benefits,the employer may require employees affected by pregnancy relatedconditions to submit such statements.

If an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job due topregnancy, the employer must treat her the same as any othertemporarily disabled employee; for example, by providing modifiedtasks, alternative assignments, disability leave or leave withoutpay.

Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they areable to perform their jobs. If an employee has been absent fromwork as a result of a pregnancy related condition and recovers, heremployer may not require her to remain on leave until the baby'sbirth. An employer may not have a rule which prohibits an employeefrom returning to work for a predetermined length of time afterchildbirth.

Employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy related absencethe same length of time jobs are held open for employees on sick ordisability leave.

Health Insurance

Any health insurance provided by an employer must cover expensesfor pregnancy related conditions on the same basis as costs forother medical conditions. Health insurance for expenses arisingfrom abortion is not required, except where the life of the motheris endangered.

Pregnancy related expenses should be reimbursed exactly as thoseincurred for other medical conditions, whether payment is on afixed basis or a percentage of reasonable and customary chargebasis.

The amounts payable by the insurance provider can be limitedonly to the same extent as costs for other conditions. Noadditional, increased or larger deductible can be imposed.

Employers must provide the same level of health benefits forspouses of male employees as they do for spouses of femaleemployees.

Fringe Benefits

Pregnancy related benefits cannot be limited to marriedemployees. In an all-female workforce or job classification,benefits must be provided for pregnancy related conditions ifbenefits are provided for other medical conditions.

If an employer provides any benefits to workers on leave, theemployer must provide the same benefits for those on leave forpregnancy related conditions.

Employees with pregnancy related disabilities must be treatedthe same as other temporarily disabled employees for accrual andcrediting of seniority, vacation calculation, pay increases andtemporary disability benefits.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified employment discrimination attorney
to make sure your rights are protected.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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