Pregnancy Discrimination Act

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The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 is a United States federal statute. It amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to "prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy."[1]

The Act covers discrimination "on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions." It only applies to employers with 15 or more employees.[2][3] Employers are exempt from providing medical coverage for elective abortions - except in the case that the mother's life is threatened - but are required to provide disability and sick leave for women who are recovering from an abortion.[4]

The law was passed as a direct response to a United States Supreme Court decision in General Electric Company v. Gilbert, which held that pregnancy discrimination was not a form of sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[5]

In March 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States' decision in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc. provided additional clarity on whether and when employers are required to provide work-related accommodations to pregnant employees.[6] The lawsuit stemmed from United Parcel Service's refusal to accommodate a 20-pound lifting restriction of a driver during her pregnancy. Because Ms. Young could not lift the required 70 pounds for drivers, UPS did not allow her to work. Ms. Young provided evidence that a number of employees received accommodations while suffering similar or more serious disabilities. According to the testimony of one UPS employee, the only time a light duty request seemed to become an issue occurred when the request was made by a pregnant employee.[7] The Court held that a pregnant employee can make a prima facie, meaning a plausible case of discrimination, by showing that “she belongs to the protected class, that she sought accommodation, that the employer did not accommodate her. The Court further held that a plaintiff can meet a summary judgement standard "by providing evidence that the employer accommodates a large percentage of nonpregnant workers while failing to accommodate a large percentage of pregnant workers."[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Text of the Act from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  2. ^ Facts About Pregnancy Discrimination from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  3. ^ Pregnancy Discrimination from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  4. ^ Congress and the Nation, s.vv. “1798,” “Pregnancy Disability.” Vol. V, 1977-1980, p. 797
  5. ^ "Forceps Delivery: The Supreme Court Narrowly Saves the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in Young v. UPS". Retrieved 2015-04-05. 
  6. ^ Chin, Michael (27 March 2015). "Supreme Court Vacates Employer Victory in Pregnancy Discrimination Case". The National Law Review. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  7. ^ Leonoro, Joesph (2 April 2015). "U.S. Supreme Court Tackles Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace". The National Law Review. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Johnson, Brandon. "Pregnancy Discrimination Claims after Young v. UPS". McBrayer Employment Law. McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 

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