Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 is an amendment to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibits employers from discriminating against workers based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. It affects only companies that employ 15 or more people. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Under the act, an employer cannot lawfully refuse to hire a woman if she is pregnant unless her condition makes it impossible for her to perform the major functions of the position.
In an interview, it is illegal for an employer to ask a woman if she is pregnant or if she plans to become pregnant or have children. History of the Law: Before the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed, pregnant women could be forced to take a leave of absence or resign because of their current condition. Employers did not have to provide disability or medical coverage for pregnancy. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by stating that pregnancy is a disability and that pregnant employees, in covered organizations, must be treated equally as employees having other medical conditions.
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Under the law, it is illegal for employees to deny sick leave for morning sickness or related pregnancy illness if sick leave is permitted for other medical conditions such as flu or surgical operations. Specifically, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act affects employee benefit programs including (1) hospitalization and major medical insurance, (2) temporary disability and salary continuation plans, and (3) sick leave policies (Bohlander and Snell, 105). The law prohibits discrimination in the hiring, promotion, or termination of women because of pregnancy.
Women must be evaluated on their ability to perform the job, and employers may not set dates for mandatory pregnancy leaves. Leave dates are to be based on the the individual pregnant employee’s ability to work (Bohlander and Snell, 105) Why the law was created: Discrimination against pregnant employees was becoming more and more common in the work force. By 1977, women made up more than 45 percent of the labor force, but only one-quarter had insurance plans that allowed sick leave for pregnancy-related illness. A 1978 amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.
The momentum for the act was a 1976 Supreme Court decision, General Electric v. Gilbert, in which the Court held that denial of benefits for pregnancy-related disability was not discrimination based on sex. This holding echoed past management decisions by which married women faced job discrimination and pregnant women were routinely fired. Reaction to the Gilbert decision was quick. Women’s organizations, feminists, labor and civil rights advocates, and some right-to-life groups formed a coalition known as the Campaign to End Discrimination against Pregnant Workers to seek legislative relief from the Court’s decision.
Legislation to amend Title VII and overturn Gilbert was introduced in Congress in 1977 and passed, as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, one year later. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination against pregnant women in all areas of employment, including hiring, firing, seniority rights, job security, and the receipt of fringe benefits. The most controversial parts of the law have been those requiring employers who offer health insurance and temporary disability plans to give coverage to women for pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions.
Although by 1977 many major corporations were already providing such benefits, business associations argued that pregnancy was a “voluntary condition” not an illness, and that the bill would raise insurance costs. The PDA does not, however, require employers who do not offer health insurance or disability benefits at all to adopt such plans, and Title VII applies only to employers with fifteen or more employees. These provisions leave many female workers unprotected by the act. Although all major feminist organizations supported the 1978 amendment to Title VII, feminists in 2002 remained divided on how to apply the act.
At issue was the language in the act that says employers cannot treat pregnancy “more or less” favorably than other disabilities. Some feminists argued that gender equality requires identical treatment of women and men without regard to pregnancy. This “equal treatment” group said that the PDA prohibits treatment of pregnant workers in a way that favors them over workers with other kinds of temporary disabilities. Other feminists argued that the only way to ensure equal opportunity for women is through pregnancy-specific benefits ensuring that pregnant women are not disadvantaged because of real biological difference from men.
This “special treatment” group said that the PDA permits justifiably favorable treatment of pregnant employees. Some states have enacted legislation that gives pregnant women benefits not available to other workers. The Supreme Court upheld one such statute in California Federal Savings and Loan Association v. Guerra (1987). In that case, the Court held that the California statute requiring unpaid maternity leave and guaranteed job reinstatement was not preempted by the PDA, because the purposes of the state law were not inconsistent with those of the PDA or Title VII http://www. nswers. com/topic/pregnancy-discrimination-act Why the law was created: Under this law, employers who have at least 15 workers are not allowed to: o Refuse to hire a woman because of pregnancy o Fire or force a worker to leave because she is pregnant o Take away credit for previous years, accrued retirement benefits, or seniority because of maternity leave o Fire or refuse to hire a woman because she has an abortion You must be allowed to keep working as long as you are able to do your job.
Your boss cannot make a rule about how long you must stay out of work before or after childbirth. If your company does not offer sick leave, then it may be discriminating against pregnant workers. Your employer must treat you at least as well as he/she treats other workers who can’t do their jobs for a short time. For example, if your company lets a worker go who had a heart attack or broken leg on paid or unpaid disability leave, you must also have this right if you are unable to work because of pregnancy or childbirth.
If your pregnancy stops you from being able to do your job, you have the right to be given easier duties, if other workers who can’t do their jobs for a short time get this right. Many States have equal employment opportunity laws that protect against pregnancy discrimination. In addition, the States of California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico also pay partial wages during time off from work for medical problems, including those of pregnancy.
Find out if your State has this law, which is called “temporary disability insurance. ” Some employers, especially larger companies, also offer this type of insurance. Check your benefits. HOW MUCH TIME CAN YOU HAVE OFF? A new law, the Family and Medical Leave Act, gives you added protections. It went into effect on August 5, 1993. If your doctor or health care provider says you are sick and unable to work during your pregnancy, you may be able to get up to 12 weeks off without pay under this new law.
You also are allowed time off for childbirth, adoption, and to care for a sick child or family member. If you take time off under this law, you have the right to the same job or a job with equal pay and benefits when you come back to work. Call the Women’s Bureau at 1-800-827-5335 for a copy of our brochure, Family and Medical Leave Act: Know Your Rights. Some States have their own family leave laws that protect your right to return to your job after time off for pregnancy-related problems or childbirth.