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The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

PDA prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. [i] The Act applies to all employers having at least 15 or more than 15 employees.  PDA states that pregnant women or women affected by pregnancy related conditions must be treated in the same manner as any other employee, and if a pregnant employee is unable to perform her duties because of pregnancy, her disability is to be treated on the same basis as any other disability. 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against employees on the basis of gender.   According to the Civil rights Act, no employer may refuse to hire any person or fire any employee solely based on their sex.  Employers are also prohibited from engaging in any sexual discriminatory practices.  However, the Supreme Court decision in Gilbert’s case made it very clear that discrimination based on pregnancy is not considered sexual discrimination under the Civil Rights Act.  The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was enacted to cover this loophole.  PDA states that pregnant and non pregnant women should be treated alike, both in terms of benefits received and all other aspects.   The PDA prohibits discrimination against pregnant women in different areas of employment such as hiring, firing, seniority rights, job security, and receipt of fringe benefits.

PDA specifically states that any pregnant employee in the organization should be given the same benefits as any other employee in the organization. Although employers are not required to provide health insurance benefits for abortion, there are certain cases where the employer may become liable for payment.  They are: a) cases where the abortion was necessary and conducted to save the mother because carrying the child to the term would endanger the life of the mother; or b) cases where the abortion resulted in any medical complications.  However, employers may have to pay abortion benefits to the employees if there are previous agreement between the employer and employee governing the same. 


[i] 42 USCS § 2000e

Inside The Pregnancy Discrimination Act