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How does the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protect pregnant women?

Pregnant women who continue working during their pregnancy face the dual challenge of carrying a child while fulfilling their job duties. While some employers treat pregnant women equitably, many do not.

To address the problem of pregnancy discrimination, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978. This important amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth and associated conditions. Although these laws are decades old, they are two of today’s most important protections against pregnancy discrimination.

The protections of the PDA

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the PDA, any employer with over 15 employees may not discriminate against pregnant women in the areas of:

  • Hiring and working conditions
  • Pregnancy and maternity leave
  • Pregnancy and temporary disability
  • Health insurance
  • Fringe benefits

In addition, these laws forbid employers from retaliating against workers who are pregnant or have pregnancy-related conditions who file a discrimination charge or participate in an investigation or lawsuit under Title VII. If your employer violates any of these protections, then they may be acting illegally.

What to do if you are experiencing pregnancy discrimination

Despite these protections, there are still employers throughout the United States that discriminate against pregnant employees. Victims do, however, have recourse. If you are currently experiencing or previously experienced discrimination based on pregnancy or a related medical condition:

  • Document any incidents of workplace discrimination
  • Report the incidents to your supervisors
  • Seek counsel from an employment attorney based in California
  • Learn your legal options and rights when it comes to pregnancy discrimination
  • Consider filing a formal complaint, settling or pursuing litigation