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What is pregnancy discrimination?

Learning you're pregnant and going to have a baby is one of the most beautiful pieces of information that any woman can receive. Your boss, however, might feel differently. Every year, countless soon-to-be mothers discover they're with child, and then find out they're without a job.

Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) -- which is part of Title VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- employers are prohibited to discriminate against workers who are pregnant, giving birth or have a pregnancy or birth related medical condition. Employers must treat pregnant women in the same way as they would treat other job applicants of similar qualifications.

Imagine you're interviewing for a job and you're pregnant, but none of the other job applicants are pregnant. Your employer cannot take the fact of your pregnancy into consideration when making his or her hiring decisions. In addition to hiring practices, the PDA also protects women from discrimination related to pay, promotion, assignments, training, firing, benefits, layoffs and other matters. Furthermore, pregnant women are protected from being subjected to on-the-job harassment.

If you suspect that you are being treated, or have been treated, differently on the basis of being pregnant, it might not be easy to prove that pregnancy discrimination has occurred. For example, your potential employer might try to give another reason for not hiring you, or offer an alternative explanation for passing you up for a promotion. A skilled Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawyer who is experienced with representing victims of workplace and pregnancy discrimination will be able to take action on your behalf and advocate for your civil rights.

Source: EEOC, "Pregnancy Discrimination," accessed June 23, 2017

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