Pregnancy Discrimination

As a part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act forbids discrimination on the basis of pregnancy with regard to hiring, firing, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. Pregnancy discrimination includes the unfavorable treatment of applicants and employees based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition.

When a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer must treat her the same way it treats other temporarily disabled employees. For example, if an employer provides light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave or leave to temporarily-disabled employees, it must do the same for pregnant employees.

If an employer requires a doctor’s note from employees prior to granting leave, it may require the same from expectant mothers. An employer may not impose more stringent requirements on new mothers returning to work than other employees returning to work.

Reasonable Accommodations

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an impairment resulting from pregnancy such as gestational diabetes may be categorized as a disability.  For conditions like this, an employer may be obligated to provide a reasonable accommodation (such as a job modification or leave) unless doing so would present an undue hardship to the employer.


Although there appears to be a positive trend in the way pregnant women are treated in the workplace, some employers view pregnancy as a disruption or annoyance.  It is against the law to harass a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition.  This behavior is illegal when it is so severe or frequent that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or it results in an adverse treatment such as a demotion or firing.  The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor from another area, a co-worker or a non-employee such as a customer or client.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a new parent (including foster and adoptive parents) may be eligible for 12 weeks of leave (unpaid or paid if the employee has earned or accrued it) that may be used for care of the new child. To be eligible, the employee must have worked for the employer for 12 months prior to taking the leave and the employer must have the specified number of employees.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), with some exceptions, nursing mothers have the right to express milk in the workplace.

If you have been subjected to unfavorable treatment due to pregnancy, contact Rich Daugherty to arrange an initial phone conference at no charge.  He is experienced in representing clients who have been victims of this discrimination in the workplace and will fight to protect your rights.

Rich represents clients throughout North Carolina and is available to meet with prospective clients outside of Chapel Hill when circumstances permit.  Evening appointments are also available.

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