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Anti-discrimination and pregnancy in the workplace

On Behalf of | Jan 1, 2019 | Employment Law

Class action lawsuits and claims of unfair treatment against pregnant employees are on the rise. In 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received over 3,100 complaints regarding pregnancy-related discrimination, the highest number to date. What is the reason behind the rise in complaints?

Anti-discrimination laws extend to protect women during pregnancy, and all parties should understand the law when it comes to handling pregnancy in the workplace.


Employers cannot refuse to hire a qualified candidate because she is pregnant or may become pregnant while employed. A company or its employees cannot exercise prejudice when it comes to hiring.


Working conditions for pregnancy should remain the same. No demotions, unsafe conditions or biased work assignments can occur.

Maternity leave

Companies cannot ask for medical documentation or a doctor’s note if a pregnant woman goes on leave. The exception to this is if there is a company-wide policy which requires all employees to furnish proof of medical leave.

Temporary disability

Some positions require a certain amount of physical fitness or labor. When a woman in one of these positions becomes pregnant, she may no longer have the ability to perform these duties. In this instance, an employer must treat the pregnant employee the same way as any other employee with a temporary disability.


Employers cannot revoke or refuse to pay medical insurance for a pregnant employee if they have paid for insurance in the past. Employers must continue to cover all pregnancy-related costs and expenditures as they would pursuant to any other medical condition.

Miscellaneous benefits

Any benefits granted to employees while on medical leave, such as paid leave, allowing employees to use vacation time and the like have to extend to pregnancy leave as well.

When it comes to pregnancy in the workplace, employees should not feel discriminated against. Employers must take great care and exercise caution when making changes to a pregnant woman’s position, pay, duties or benefits. Understanding what rules and regulations employers have to follow is one way to know when an employer does not handle a situation properly.