Discrimination against pregnant workers violates federal law

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amended Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, prohibits employers in Arizona and around the country from discriminating against workers on the basis of childbirth, pregnancy or medical conditions related to pregnancy. Refusing to hire a woman because she is pregnant violates the 1978 law unless her condition would prevent her from performing the duties required. Furthermore, pregnant women who have already been hired cannot be denied assignments, promotions, benefits or pay.

The law also requires employers to allow pregnant women to remain in their positions for as long as they are able to complete their duties. Pregnancy is considered a temporary disability, and employers must offer the same considerations to pregnant women as they would to any other worker who is temporarily disabled. New parents may also be entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave under the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.

Employers must provide the same benefits to women on medical leave for pregnancy-related conditions as they do to workers on medical leave for any other reason. Furthermore, any company health insurance plans should cover pregnancy-related treatments. However, covering abortion costs is not required under the PDA, and even pregnancy treatments may sometimes be excluded by pre-existing condition clauses.

Employers are often unwilling to admit that they treat pregnant workers unfairly. However, attorneys with experience in this area may gather supporting evidence before initiating workplace discrimination litigation. Such evidence could include the testimony of pregnant workers who have been fired or denied opportunities as well as company documents, such as employee handbooks and policy and procedure manuals, containing provisions that could violate federal law.

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