Pregnancy Discrimination Defense
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e et seq., prohibits various forms of employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. As amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, Title VII prohibits discrimination based on a woman's pregnancy because it is, on its face, discrimination because of her sex.
The terms "because of sex" or "on the basis of sex" include, but are not limited to, because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes. as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.
To make out a pregnancy discrimination claim, the plaintiff must show that she was treated differently from others who took leave or were otherwise unable or unwilling to perform their duties for reasons unrelated to pregnancy or that she simply was treated differently because of her pregnancy. It has been repeatedly affirmed that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 does not require the creation of special programs for pregnant women; nor does it mandate any special treatment. To the contrary, the statute specifically requires that pregnant women be treated the same as all other employees with similar disabilities.
Importantly: an employer is not obligated to keep an employee who is missing work. However, an employer must treat a pregnant employee or an employee who gave birth the same way as other employees.
A vivid example of employment discrimination based on pregnancy is when a woman informs her employer that she is pregnant, and shortly she gets fired or assigned to work in conditions that cause her to quit. If an adverse employment action is taken in connection with pregnancy, an employee can prove her case. An adverse employment action may be expressed in failure to transfer; failure to promote; hostile environment; deprivation of benefits; unwarranted disciple; termination, etc.