The Pregnancy Discrimination Act 1978

by  Adv. Rupa K.N  




3 mins


Pregnancy Discrimination Act


The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and was enacted to ban pregnancy, childbirth, or associated medical conditions-based discrimination. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an addendum to the Civil Rights Act that guarantees pregnant women the right to work. It is mentioned in case law and employment law and is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a department of the United States government.

Constitution of Pregnancy Discrimination Act 1978

The first statute, known as “Title VII,” was modified by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. It makes sex discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination, illegal. Title VII discrimination on “pregnancy” can be based on the following:

1. Current pregnancy

2. Previous pregnancy

3. Potential pregnancy

4. Medical condition connected to pregnancy or delivery

5. Having or not having an abortion

The Americans with Disabilities Act, sometimes known as the “ADA,” is the second statute. The ADA bans discrimination against an applicant or employee because of a handicap, including a pregnancy-related impairment, such as diabetes, that develops during pregnancy.

Empower Yourself With Knowledge About The Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Our Expert Advice Ensures You're Never Left In The Dark

Working Conditions under Pregnancy Discrimination Act 1978

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act expressly states that an employer may not refuse to hire a woman because of her pregnancy-related condition if she can fulfill the essential tasks of her work. Furthermore, pregnancy-based discrimination is prohibited in any other part of work, including salary, benefits, training, promotions, layoffs, job assignments, and any other term or condition of employment.

If an employee is temporarily unable to fulfill her tasks owing to a pregnancy-related ailment, her employer must treat her like any other employee with reduced physical ability. This involves giving reduced or light duty responsibilities, alternate assignments, unpaid absence, or maternity leave.

Essentials of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act 1978

1. Applicability: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act only applies to businesses with 15 or more employees. If you work for a company with less than 15 workers, contact your local Department of Labor Women’s Bureau to see if there is a state or local agency that may help you.

2. Equality: According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, pregnant and non-pregnant women should be treated equally in terms of benefits and all other elements. It expressly stipulates that any pregnant employee should be offered the same benefits as any other employee in the firm.

3. Discrimination: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act forbids discrimination against pregnant women in several areas of work, including hiring, dismissal, seniority rights, job security, and receipt of fringe benefits.

4. Liability: Although employers are not required to provide health insurance benefits for abortion, there are certain cases where the employer may become liable for payment. 

a) cases, where the abortion was necessary and conducted to save the mother because carrying the child to the term, would endanger the life of the mother; 

b) cases where the abortion resulted in any medical complications.

Duties of Employers under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act 1978

1. Employers may not require pregnant employees to take leave before childbirth or set a fixed start date for their maternity leave.

2. Pregnant women should be allowed to work as long as they are willing and able under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

3. If an employee takes a brief absence from work due to a pregnancy-related issue, she may not be required to prolong the leave duration until the baby is born.

4. Employers are also forbidden from requiring employees to take time off work after having a kid under Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

5. Employers are not permitted to subject pregnant employees to any examinations or special processes to assess their capacity to work.

Confused About The Pregnancy Discrimination Act? We're Here To Shed Light, Providing You With Clear, Actionable Insights

How and When to prove Pregnancy Discrimination?

There are a number of situations or behaviors that can be used by the law to establish pregnancy discrimination, make employers accountable, and provide employees with justice. These may consist of the following:

1. A small interval of time following the unfavorable action of firing or harassing before the decision-maker learned about the individual’s pregnancy, delivery, or associated medical condition

2. An official corporate policy that permits pregnant staff to get preferential treatment over other employees or job seekers

3. Using words like “Mommy track” or other expressions that show bias towards pregnant women when speaking to employees, whether they are other employees or a pregnant employee

4. Less favourable treatment to the pregnant individual than other employees who are not pregnant

Disclosure of Pregnancy

It is totally up to the individual to decide and choose to inform the employer and coworkers about their pregnancy. They might want to wait until after they have had their first scan and informed family and friends. The individual is not compelled to disclose the information to current or prospective employers that they are pregnant during an interview or while on probation. If the individual is worried about health and safety hazards at work or needs to take paid time off for prenatal care, they must notify their employer as soon as possible.

Takeaways for companies under Pregnancy Discrimination Act 1978

1. Create a working culture that is free of prejudice.

2. Allow for flexible scheduling to accommodate prenatal appointments and/or a pregnancy-related medical condition.

3. Maintain open communication lines and keep employees informed, particularly about work-family perks and expectations prior to leaving/returning from leave.

4. Assist in the planning of maternity leave arrangements

5. Normalize and make breastfeeding acceptable in the workplace.

Enforceability of Pregnancy Discrimination Act 1978

If an individual has been the victim of job discrimination because of them being pregnant, they must file a claim with the EEOC. The claim should be clear about what transpired and include all necessary contact information for all parties involved.

Workplace discrimination or online lawyer is well-versed in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, as well as other employment legislation addressing discrimination. It is essential to speak with an attorney to identify the best legal alternatives and to seek the best family legal advice to move forward.

Know Your Rights Under The Pregnancy Discrimination Act 1978: Consult With A Legal Expert Today


Pregnancy is a natural occurrence for all prospective mothers, and no one should be afraid of losing her career because she is pregnant. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act 1978 protects pregnant women by removing the need for them to worry about matters that should be obvious. 

While federal law has provided essential protections for pregnant women, politicians at the national level may and should take other steps to enhance those protections. To protect the rights of pregnant workers, comprehensive action is required,  as is an expansion of available information on economic inequities ingrained in discriminatory practices.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 safeguards the rights of pregnant women in the workplace. Talk to a lawyer now

Adv. Rupa K.N

Adv. Rupa K.N


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Advocate Rupa K.N, with over 24 years of independent practice, specialises in providing legal expertise, advice and guidance to a broad range of customers. Having been practising law independently for several years after doing her B.A. LLB from Bangalore University and PGDM from the National Institute of Personnel Management.

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