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What is Pregnancy Discrimination?



The Pregnancy Discrimination Act


The Pregnancy Discrimination Act covers discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, noting that this constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII, which pertains to employers with 15 or more employees. Employers may not fire, refuse to hire, or otherwise discriminate against women on the basis of their pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition. Employers are also responsible for providing pregnant women with necessary accommodations as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


What is a Reasonable Accommodation for Pregnancy?

A reasonable accommodation is a reasonable modification or adjustment to the job application process or work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position desired or held is customarily performed, that enable an applicant or employee affected by pregnancy to be considered for the position or to perform the essential functions of that position. Examples can include:

  1. More frequent or longer bathroom breaks;

  2. Breaks for increased water intake;

  3. Breaks for periodic rests;

  4. Private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk and breastfeeding;

  5. Seating;

  6. Assistance with manual labor;

  7. Light duty;

  8. Temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position;

  9. The provision of an accessible worksite;

  10. Acquisition or modification of equipment;

  11. Job restructuring;

  12. A part-time or modified work schedule;

  13. Appropriate modifications of examinations, training materials, or polices;

  14. Reassignment to a vacant position;

  15. Time off to recover from pregnancy; and

  16. Leave necessitated by pregnancy.

What is considered pregnancy discrimination?

On October 31, 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to require the equal treatment of pregnancy and related medical conditions. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act redefined employment discrimination based on sex in a manner that requires government bodies to pay sick leave and to provide comparable health insurance coverage for disabilities due to pregnancy. Under this expanded definition of sex discrimination, an employer is required to treat illness and disability resulting from pregnancy identically to its treatment of sickness or disability from any other cause.


Can I Be Fired For Getting Pregnant?

Your employer cannot legally fire or reassign you because you are pregnant, nor can your employer prohibit you from working or returning to work after giving birth. According to the EEOC’s clarifying guidelines about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the law doesn’t just cover current pregnancies—it also covers past and future pregnancies. That mean your employer can’t fire you at the end of you maternity leave.


Can I Breastfeed or Pump at Work?

Your employer must accommodate pregnancy-related needs, such as breastfeeding and lactation.


Can I Be Passed Over For A Job Because I’m Pregnant?

An employer cannot refuse to hire someone because she is pregnant or has a medical condition related to her pregnancy. Since pregnant employees and workers may have impairments related to or because of their pregnancies, the Americans with Disabilities Act specifies that employers may not discriminate against workers with pregnancy-related impairments, and must provide an “individual with a reasonable accommodation if needed because of a pregnancy-related disability.” These reasonable accommodations might include modifying workplace policies so that the pregnant worker can take more frequent breaks or redistributing duties, such as lifting, that a pregnant worker cannot perform.


FMLA and Maternity Leave

Under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), you may take up to 12 week of unpaid leave in any 12-month period. This law also covers other circumstances, such as personal or family illnesses. When you return to work, you must be allowed to resume the same job you had before your leave, and you must be entitled to the benefits and entitlements you had previously. You may also continue to receive group health insurance and benefits during your leave.


Missouri Pregnancy Leave


Missouri does not have a state law that specifically requires employers to offer pregnancy leave; however, guidance issued by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights pursuant to the MHRA requires employers to provide the same leave benefits to women affected by pregnancy and related conditions as are provided to employees with temporary disabilities. Specifically, disabilities caused or contributed to by pregnancy, miscarriage, legal abortion, childbirth and recovery are, for all job-related purposes, temporary disabilities and should be treated as such under any health or temporary disability insurance or sick leave plan available in connection with employment.


Contact Davis & Gras, LLC


If you or a loved one were discriminated against in the workplace due to a pregnancy, contact our experienced attorneys at 314-888-5858.



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