At the Law Offices of Archibald J. Thomas, III, P.A. we have represented victims of pregnancy discrimination for over 25 years. We have represented employees in numerous pregnancy discrimination cases before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Florida Commission on Human Relations and in the state and federal courts. In addition, the Family and Medical Leave Act can also be a source of important legal protection for both pregnant employees and fathers as well.
If you have questions or concerns regarding discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, we can help. Call us today for answers to any of your questions or concerns regarding your rights as a pregnant employee.
The following information describes some of the basic rights guaranteed under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Similar protection has been found by the courts of the state of Florida under The Florida Civil Rights Act:
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII, which covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. Title VII also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government. Women who are pregnant or affected by pregnancy related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations. Title VIIʹs pregnancy related protections include:
An employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, because of a pregnancy related condition, or because of the prejudices of coworkers, clients, or customers.
• Pregnancy and Maternity Leave
An employer may not single out pregnancy related conditions for special procedures to determine an employeeʹs ability to work. However, if an employer requires its employees to submit a doctorʹs statement concerning their inability to work before granting leave or paying sick benefits, the employer may require employees affected by pregnancy related conditions to submit such statements.
If an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job because of her pregnancy, the employer must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, if the employer allows temporarily disabled employees to modify tasks, perform alternative assignments, or take disability leave or leave without pay, the employer also must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled because of pregnancy to do the same.
Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs. If an employee has been absent from work as a result of a pregnancy related condition and recovers, her employer may not require her to remain on leave until the babyʹs birth. An employer also may not have a rule that prohibits an employee from returning to work for a predetermined length of time after childbirth.
Employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy related absence the same length of time jobs are held open for employees on sick or disability leave.
• Health Insurance
Any health insurance provided by an employer must cover expenses for pregnancy related conditions on the same basis as costs for other medical conditions. An employer need not provide health insurance for expenses arising from abortion, except where the life of the mother is endangered.
Pregnancy related expenses should be reimbursed exactly as those incurred for other medical conditions, whether payment is on a fixed basis or a percentage of reasonable and customary charge basis. The amounts payable by the insurance provider can be limited only to the same extent as amounts payable for other conditions. No additional, increased, or larger deductible can be imposed. Employers must provide the same level of health benefits for spouses of male employees as they do for spouses of female employees.
• Fringe Benefits
Pregnancy related benefits cannot be limited to married employees. In an all female workforce or job classification, benefits must be provided for pregnancy related conditions if benefits are provided for other medical conditions.
If an employer provides any benefits to workers on leave, the employer must provide the same benefits for those on leave for pregnancy related conditions. Employees on leave because of pregnancy related conditions must be treated the same as other temporarily disabled employees for accrual and crediting of seniority, vacation calculation, pay increases, and temporary disability benefits.
It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on pregnancy or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII.