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Pregnancy Discrimination: The Evergreen Employment Law Cause of Action


Created on March 07, 2017



Join employment law attorney Jack Tuckner as he details the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and other related leave of absence laws that affect employers and employees from the plaintiff's perspective

Despite (or because of) the recent expansion of prohibitions against pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, these sex-based claims against employers have held steady or risen each year, from 3,385 combined EEOC and state agency complaints filed in 1992, to 5,797 complaints filed in 2011. This excludes the thousands of state court complaint filings, not to mention the largest group of pre-filing pregnancy discrimination claims resolved through confidential settlement agreements.

The state of the law defining pregnancy discrimination is confusing to both employers and employees and at times seemingly contradictory, as the interplay between the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act is not always easy to discern. Add into that murky mix the laws of the twelve states and four cities that have enacted their own more expansive Pregnant Workers Fairness Acts, requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers just because they are pregnant, and you have a recipe for litigation.  

Whether you represent employers or employees, it is essential to understand the rapidly evolving area of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. While it is largely understood that employers may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition, what does federal law mean when it holds that pregnant women must be treated “the same as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work"? What if the pregnant employee is not “disabled” within the meaning of the ADA? Is she still entitled to a reasonable accommodation? Is a pregnant employee entitled to maternity leave if the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 does not cover her because her employer is too small? Gain answers to all these questions and more.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Review the Legal Framework for Pregnancy Discrimination Claims, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Gilbert v General Electric, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, Young v UPS, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments of 2008, the FLSA Nursing Breaks Amendment of 2010, and various State and Local Laws
  2. Synthesize and harmonize the current state of the various federal laws
  3. Assess how these laws apply to different workplace pregnancy scenarios
  4. Provide best practices guidance to reduce legal exposure for companies and to empower pregnant employees to protect their jobs through awareness and prevention 

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