Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Pregnancy Discrimination Act: Workplace Law
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a workplace law that protects expectant women’s rights while looking for a job, when actively employed. After returning to the workforce the ability to express milk is protected under a related statute.
Other federal regulations may overlap to provide additional protections, or fill holes not addressed by the PDA such as maternity leave, and breastfeeding on the job. This topic is broken down into three main points:
Pregnancy Discrimination Act Definitions
Several Pregnancy Discrimination Act definitions are important to know to help you determine if your employer is required to comply, if there is a possible violation, and if you are eligible for damages.
The PDA first defines which employers are subject to the federal regulation. Employers with fifteen or more total employees, including federal, state, municipal, union, private workers and employment agencies must comply.
The PDA outlaws discrimination based upon pregnancy in any area of employment including hiring, performance evaluations, career development, taking of sick leave, etc. There is a one hundred and eighty day statute of limitations to file notice of violation. Charges made after this time frame will not be subject to damages. File your claim right away to take advantage of any remedies under the law.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Maternity Leave
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act provides some limited workplace protections during maternity leave. The PDA and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) along with some state regulations allow you to cobble together important job protections. Under the PDA employers must treat expectant women the same as any other employee with a medical condition. Employees with medical conditions that limit their ability to work can fall into several categories: work reassignments, modified schedules, and temporary leaves of absence.
Employers often modify work assignments to accommodate employee’s limitations. Women who are expecting should be treated in the same manner as every other employee. For example, if an employer assigns light duty work to an injured worker, the same must be done for any pregnant employees.
Employers must now also provide reasonable break time to allow a breastfeeding mother to express milk. This requirement was added to the Fair Labor Standards Act in 2010. This falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor.
Employers may sometimes arrange flexible working hours for employees with a medical need. Modified work schedules and sick leave policies must be applied equally throughout the workplace. A woman experiencing morning sickness should expect to be treated the same as any other employee with a chronic medical condition.
At some point an expectant mother will need to take a maternity leave. Her condition may require her to take leave long before her due date, and simply to recover from childbirth. The PDA again requires that any temporary leave due to a pregnancy-related condition must be treated the same as any other employee taking leave.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Health Insurance
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act also requires that any group health insurance plan provided by an employer with more than fifteen employees cover an expectant mother to the same extent as any other covered sickness. This means that pregnancy-related conditions have the same:
Sources: Equal Opportunity Commission; U.S. Dept of Labor