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Discrimination against pregnant workers forbidden

As Maryland employees may know, pregnant workers may not be treated differently than other employees who are unable to work due to a temporary condition. However, compliance with the law may be lacking in some instances.

In 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was enacted to prohibit discrimination in the workplace, and an amendment was passed in 1978 forbidding sex discrimination based on pregnancy. This means pregnant employees may not be fired due to pregnancy or a condition associated with pregnancy. Furthermore, the condition may not be considered during the hiring process or become a determining factor in promotions or layoffs.

Employers, coworkers or supervisors may not harass a worker about being pregnant and, if the pregnant employee develops a pregnancy-associated condition, such as gestational diabetes, she should not be treated differently than any other employee suffering from a similar condition. If the employer generally grants disability leave, then the pregnant employee must be allowed to take leave under the established plan. In addition, if the pregnant worker is capable of light duty usually offered to temporarily disabled workers, then it should be offered to the pregnant worker.

A pregnant worker with a pregnancy-derived medical condition may also be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which forbids discrimination based on disability. Under the auspices of this 1990 law, the employer must treat a disability with reasonable accommodation.

If a worker feels they were discriminated against due to pregnancy, they may report the employer to the appropriate federal and state agencies. Losing a job may mean the individual is unable to care for herself and her child due to lost income. An attorney may review the worker's case against the employer and determine if discrimination occurred. The attorney may also help the employee file a discrimination lawsuit to recover damages.

Source: EEOC, "Pregnancy Discrimination", December 31, 2014

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Frederick, MD 21703
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