Brown Law Office 972-355-0092
Brown Law Office 972-355-0092
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Employer Law FAQ

What is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was enacted as an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The PDA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. Public employers, such as federal, state and local government agencies, and private employers with 15 or more employees are covered by the PDA.

According to the Act, employers may not have a policy, whether written or unwritten, against hiring pregnant women. Employers may not refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant or because she has medical conditions related to her pregnancy so long as the woman is able to perform the essential functions of the job.

If a pregnant woman becomes unable to perform the essential functions of her job, the employer is required to treat her as a temporarily disabled employee. This means the employer must make the same accommodations as it would for an employee who cannot perform some or all of his or her job functions due to a temporary disability. This may include changing some of the job functions, having the pregnant employee perform alternative functions or offering the employee paid or unpaid leave.

Employers are not required to give pregnant employees preferential treatment. Their duty is to treat them equal with other employees and not to discriminate against them in any employment decisions because of the pregnancy. Employers have the right to terminate pregnant employees for excessive absences from work, even if those absences were caused by pregnancy-related reasons.

Many state and local laws require employers to provide leave for pregnancy and maternity related purposes. In developing leave policies, employers may not have special policies that only apply to pregnant employees. Employers may be able to require pregnant employees to provide certification from a physician or other health care provider prior to authorizing work leave, so long as employers regularly require this type of certification for other employees requesting leave. Conversely, employers cannot require pregnant employees to take leave so long as they are still capable of completing their employment duties.

The PDA also requires employers to allow employees who take leave for pregnancy or maternity related purposes to return to their jobs on the same basis as employers would allow employees out on sick or disability leave to return to theirs. Thus, employers are required to keep a pregnant employee's job open during her absence for the same amount of time the employer would for employees on sick or disability leave.

If the employer provides health insurance to its employees, the health insurance must offer coverage for pregnancy-related conditions the same as it would for other medical conditions. The amount the insurer pays for pregnancy related conditions cannot be less than it covers for other conditions, and it may not require additional or higher deductibles for pregnancy related conditions. Likewise, if the employer generally provides continued benefits to employees out on other types of leave, it must do the same for employees out on pregnancy or maternity leaves.

The PDA specifically prohibits employers from sex discrimination based on an employee's pregnancy status. For more information on an employer's duties under the PDA, contact an experienced employment law attorney today. Employers may have other obligations under federal and state law to pregnant employees.

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Betty L. Brown
Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
in Labor and Employment Law
Fountain Park
1021 Long Prairie Road, Suite 402
Flower Mound, TX 75022
Phone: 972-355-0092
Fax: 972-899-9635