Pregnancy Discrimination

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The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is an amendment to Title VII that declares discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions to be unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. Women affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated the same as other applicants or employees with similar conditions, abilities or limitations. An employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant applicant as long as she is able to perform the major functions of the job, and the employer cannot refuse to hire the person because of the prejudices of the employer or those of clients, customers or co-workers.

Pregnancy cannot be singled out for special procedures. The pregnant employee must be treated the same as any other employee in a similar situation. For example, if the employer requires a doctor’s statement prior to granting sick leave, the employer may require a pregnant employee to provide a doctor’s statement if the employee requests sick leave.

If a pregnant employee is temporarily unable to perform her job, the employer must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee (e.g., modified tasks, alternative assignments, disability leave, or leave without pay, if the employer provides these benefits to other workers who are temporarily disabled).

Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs. Employers cannot make pre-determined rules requiring employees to remain off work a specified period of time either before or following childbirth. Employers must hold open a job for pregnancy-related absences for as long as the employer would for employees with other kinds of temporary disabilities.

Health insurance must cover pregnancy-related conditions on the same basis as other medical conditions. No increased or additional deductible can be imposed. Also, pregnancy-related benefits cannot be limited to married employees.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is administered by the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  See EEOC Facts about Pregnancy Discrimination.

Effective October 1, 2020, state law found at T.C.A. § 50-10-101 et seq., the Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, requires employers with more than 15 employees to make reasonable accommodations for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of employees or applicants for employment.  "Reasonable accommodation" may include: making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible and usable; providing more frequent, longer, or flexible breaks; providing a private place, other than a bathroom stall, for the purpose of expressing milk; modifying food or drink policy; providing modified seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently if the job requires standing; providing assistance with manual labor and limits on lifting; authorizing a temporary transfer to a vacant position; providing job restructuring or light duty, if available; acquiring or modifying of equipment, devices, or an employee's work station; modifying work schedules; and allowing flexible scheduling for prenatal visits.  The employer may request medical certification if it is required of other employees with medical conditions.