Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees from pregnancy discrimination. As noted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employees and job applicants may file claims against companies that discriminate based on pregnancy.
Workers have the right to keep their jobs, pay and benefits after informing their supervisors of their pregnancies. Federal law also protects employees from discrimination based on their postnatal needs.
Avoiding discrimination against pregnant job applicants
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 protects the rights of pregnant job applicants. Employment applications may, however, ask if applicants could perform the job functions “with or without” a reasonable accommodation, as reported by Chron.com.
When a pregnant applicant states she can perform the job’s essential functions, employers may not refuse to grant an interview. If an applicant has all the qualifications and skills the job requires, an employer may not refuse to hire her based on her pregnancy.
Providing pregnant employees with reasonable accommodations
Under the PDA, pregnant workers may ask their employers for reasonable accommodations. Managers, for example, could then modify tasks or provide ergonomic seating. The American Dental Association’s practice guidelines note that pregnant employees may also ask for temporary job reassignments. The Society for Human Resource Management outlines an important condition. Employers may not reassign pregnant employees to positions that expose them to toxic chemicals or other dangers.
Federal law requires companies with at least 15 employees to treat pregnant workers the same as other employees and applicants. When asked, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to allow pregnant workers to perform their tasks. A failure to follow the provisions of Title VII or the PDA may provide cause for an employee to file a legal action.