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Know your rights regarding pregnancy discrimination

In 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, which prevented discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and other factors. However, the initial law did not cover discrimination based on pregnancy. That changed in 1978 with the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

This law amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. It offered protections for women in the workplace who would ordinarily worry whether taking time off to deal with the pregnancy would result in repercussions. The PDA only covers companies with at least 15 employees, but employees receive many protections under it. 

Employers cannot reassign or fire pregnant women

Employers of companies with at least 15 workers cannot retaliate against women who become pregnant over the course of employment. Termination of employment after the employer becomes aware of the pregnancy is illegal. Additionally, the employer must allow her to work as long as she is able to. This protection also extends to women who interview for a position while pregnant and women who did not receive a promotion despite having the necessary qualifications. 

The position must be held open

When the woman has to leave work to tend to the pregnancy, the employer must hold her position open for the same amount of time he or she would need to hold the job for someone leaving to attend to a medical condition or disability. 

Women have legal recourse when discrimination takes place

Pregnancy discrimination takes many forms. It includes verbal abuse, denial of accommodations essential to continue working while pregnant and failure to provide maternity leave. Anyone who becomes a victim of discrimination should file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It is always preferable to file a complaint as soon as possible following discrimination so all of the details are fresh. A woman should write down everything that happened and speak with her union representative. Attorneys also recommend talking to the employer to see if a resolution is possible without going to court. 

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