The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 made it illegal for employers to discriminate against female employees based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Nearly 35 years later, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is still interpreting the document to ensure that women in the workplace are treated fairly in issues relating to pregnancy. In July, 2014, the EEOC released an updated interpretation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, clearly defining what employers are responsible for providing to pregnant employees.
One of the most pivotal points of the document ensures that all women are protected against pregnancy discrimination whether they are currently pregnant, have already had children, or intend to become pregnant. Employers shall not make decisions on an employee’s hiring, job assignment, demotion or promotion based on their pregnancy status or plans to become pregnant. Along these same lines, an employer may not force an employee to take medical leave, reduce their job responsibilities, or reassign positions based on the woman’s pregnancy. An employer may feel it is in the best interest of the employee to make these changes, however their reasoning could leave them subject to discrimination charges if they cannot prove that the pregnancy prohibits the employee from performing their job duties.
The EEOC’s updated guidelines also ensure that medical benefits and accommodations are provided to pregnant employees in the same manner that they are provided to non-pregnant employees with similar medical needs. According to the revised interpretation, lactation is a medical condition and therefore entitles a nursing mother to have accommodations made that allow her to breastfeed or express milk during working hours. With this in mind, employers are required to comply to the EEOC standards by providing pregnant and lactating women with the same benefits and accommodations to which any non-pregnant employee with a disability or medical condition is entitled.
The EEOC hopes that the updated understanding of the regulations imposed on employers outlined in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act will reduce the ambiguity that results in costly claims. In 2013, employers paid over $17 million in restitution resulting from the 5,000 plus pregnancy discrimination claims filed with the agency. The newly defined EEOC standards make it clear that it is the employer’s responsibility to comply with EEOC standards, and state and federal laws against discrimination in the workplace, and to remain vigilant in their efforts to ensure that all employees are treated fairly.
Philadelphia Employment Attorneys at Ezold Law Firm, PC Represent Employees who have Suffered Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace
Employment discrimination based on pregnancy or childbirth is unlawful, and employers are responsible to adhere to state and federal laws as well as EEOC guidelines. If you or someone you know has been demoted, forced to take medical leave, or has been denied medical benefits due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a similar medical condition, the Philadelphia employment and labor attorneys at Ezold Law Firm, PC can help you claim justice. Call us at 610-660-5585, or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. Conveniently located in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, we represent employees throughout Philadelphia and its surrounding counties, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.