Equal Employment Opportunity: PDA & Regulations

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  • 0:03 Pregnancy Discrimination Act
  • 1:45 Treated the Same Way…
  • 3:04 Enforcement
  • 3:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Female employees play a pivotal role in the success of an organization, but have historically been at a career disadvantage if they decide to bear children. In this lesson, you'll learn about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, including its protections and key provisions.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Brianna is an executive at a large tech company. She just received a promotion to division vice president. She's excited about the new position and the doors it will open professionally. She's also just learned that she's pregnant with her first child. She and her husband have been trying for about a year. Now, she's nervous that her pregnancy is going to cost her all the gains she has made professionally. She confides her concerns to a long-time colleague, Cassandra, who works in human resources at a different company. Cassandra says that Brianna is protected by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant individuals relating to employment. Cassandra explains that the scope of the PDA's protections are very broad and includes hiring, firing, layoffs, promotions, benefits, pay and any 'other term or condition of employment.' The PDA applies to employers who employ at least 15 people, which includes Brianna's company. Brianna's pregnancy should not have a negative impact on her career.

Cassandra also explains that the PDA prohibits harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth or a pregnancy related medical condition. According to EEOC, in order to rise to the level of harassment, it must be 'so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision, such as the victim being fired or demoted.' Harassment is not limited to supervisors but can also include co-workers or even a customer.

Treated the Same as Temporary Disabled

Cassandra also tells Brianna that if she can't perform her job because of a medical condition that is related to her pregnancy or childbirth, her employer must treat her the same way it treats a temporarily disabled employee. For example, if Brianna needs to be confined to bed during her pregnancy, her employer must provide her disability leave or unpaid leave if it provides those benefits to other temporarily disabled employees who cannot work. Likewise, if a temporarily disabled employee is given a lighter duty assignment because the temporary disability prevents the employee from performing her normal duties, a pregnant employee must be given the opportunity as well if she can't perform her regular duties because of a pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition.

Cassandra explains that it's also a violation of the PDA for an employer to use special procedures to determine whether Brianna is able to work or qualifies for leave or sick pay. Her employer must use the same procedures it uses for other temporarily disabled employees to determine whether they are unable to work. For example, if a doctor's statement is the only thing needed to establish sick leave for non-pregnant employees, that's all that should be required for pregnant employees, too.

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