FAQ Pregnancy Discrimination

What is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Are all employers covered by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

No. An employer must have at least 15 employees to be subject to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  State and City laws may vary.  For example, New York State and New York City anti-discrimination laws cover employers who have 4 or more employees.

What acts constitute a violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

An employer cannot refuse to hire you because of your pregnancy, because of a pregnancy-related condition, or because of the prejudices of co-workers.  An employer may not single out pregnancy-related conditions for special procedures to determine an employee's ability to work.  It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on pregnancy or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII.

Is my employer required to give me maternity leave?

If an employer is covered under the terms of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) see FMLA FAQ’s), it is required to give workers maternity leave.  

Title VII requires employers who grant leaves of absence for other types of personal non-disability reasons to grant maternity leave on the same terms.  If there is a medical reason for an extended leave after childbirth, then the employer must treat the leave the same as it would treat any other request for medical or disability leave.

May an employer require me to take a leave when I become pregnant?


May employers fire female workers who get married?

Title VII does not protect workers based on their marital status.  However, if the employer fires only female workers who get married but not male workers, the employer has violated Title VII by engaging in disparate treatment, i.e. sex discrimination--it applies an employment policy only to women.

When I take time off to give birth to a child, will I get my old job back?

Under Title VII, the employer must treat time off from work due to pregnancy the same as any other medical condition.  For example, if an employer reinstates a worker who was absent from work because he or she had the flu, the employer must reinstate a worker after childbirth.


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