Pregnancy Discrimination Is Sex Discrimination

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Civil Rights Act) was monumental in that it provided crucial rights to many people who had been denied equal treatment for many years. While the Act prohibited discrimination based on certain bases, other bases were left uncovered. One area of Texas employment discrimination the Civil Rights Act did not solve was pregnancy discrimination. Following the Civil Rights Act, employers continued to discriminate against women on the basis of their pregnancy. When it came time to explain their seemingly discriminatory behavior, employers routinely claimed they were basing their actions not on the sex of the employee (which was prohibited under the Act) but instead on the fact that the employee was pregnant. This was an unfortunate but accepted distinction for 14 years.

In 1978, however, things changed for the better with the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978. Technically, the PDA was an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The text of the PDA was short, and the message was straightforward. Essentially, discrimination on the basis of “pregnancy, child birth, or related medical conditions” was considered sex discrimination. Thus, an employer could no longer discriminate on the basis of an employee’s pregnant status, since doing so would amount to sex discrimination.

What Does an Employer Need to Provide for Pregnant Employees?

Under the PDA, qualifying employers must not discriminate against pregnant employees “for all employment-related purposes.” This includes an employee’s salary as well as the company’s benefits package. Thus, under the PDA, employers cannot allow employees to take medical leave for non-pregnancy illnesses but deny other employees leave for pregnancy-related reasons.

In addition to the PDA, pregnant employees, as well as those who have recently given birth, may qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave following the birth of a child or the adoption of a child. Both men and women are included under the FMLA, meaning that qualifying employers are required to provide new fathers with the same 12 weeks of leave. Importantly, FMLA leave does not need to be paid, but an employer must keep the requesting employee’s position available for them upon their return, and the employee must be provided benefits while on qualifying FMLA leave.

Have You Been a Victim of Discrimination?

If you are pregnant or have recently given birth and have been denied reasonable accommodations or a request for leave, contact the employment attorneys at Rob Wiley, P.C. Attorney Rob Wiley and his team of Dallas employment discrimination attorneys have dedicated their practice to standing up for the rights of Texas employees. To learn more about how the Law Office of Rob Wiley can help you stand up for your rights, call 214-528-6500 to schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss your case and the options you have moving forward.

More Blog Posts:

The Intersection Between Title VII and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Rules Regarding Accent Discrimination, Dallas Employment Lawyer Blog, July 6, 2018.

Can an Employer Fire Someone Based on Their Social Media Posts?, Dallas Employment Lawyer Blog, August 3, 2018.


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