Women can be subject to differential treatment because of their ability to bear children. Modern courts and legislation have made attempts to provide equal access to employment opportunity between the sexes. One such attempt is the enactment of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The PDA makes it very clear that no woman should be subject to discriminatory practices on account of being pregnant, or possibly being pregnant. Discrimination based on pregnancy can arise long before a woman actually becomes pregnant. For example, at the hiring stage employers can show prejudice towards applicants who may require leave in the future for childbearing. The PDA does not allow such discriminatory practices and provides that no employee should be treated differently because she is or may become pregnant.
According to a report by the National Partnership for Women & Families, pregnancy discrimination complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rose dramatically in recent years. In 1992, around 3,385 people filed complaints of pregnancy discrimination with the EEOC. The year 2007 showed a 65% increase in the complaint filing rate as compared to the year 1992, and around 5,587 complaints were filed in 2007.[i] In the year 2008, EEOC received 6,285 charges of pregnancy based discrimination and was successful in resolving 5,292 of them.
[i] Pregnancy Discrimination Charges EEOC & FEPAs Combined: FY 1997 – FY 2007,” The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 26 February 2008, http://www.eeoc.gov/stats/pregnanc.html.