Other Federal Laws Affecting Pregnant Workers

Legal Rights of Pregnant Workers under Federal Law

Fact Sheet for Small Businesses: Pregnancy Discrimination

Other Federal Laws Affecting Pregnant Workers

Pregnancy discrimination is against the law. The EEOC enforces three federal laws that protect job applicants and employees who are pregnant.

  • The first law is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which is called “Title VII.” It prohibits sex discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination. “Pregnancy” discrimination under Title VII can be based on:
  • The second law is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which is called the “PWFA.” The PWFA requires a covered employer to provide a reasonable accommodation to a worker’s known limitation related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship.
  • The third law is the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is called the “ADA.” The ADA prohibits discrimination against an applicant or employee based on a disability, including a disability related to a pregnancy such as diabetes that develops during pregnancy. While pregnancy itself is not a disability under the ADA, some pregnant workers may have one or more impairments related to their pregnancy that qualify as a “disability under the ADA. An employer may have to provide that worker with a reasonable accommodation for the pregnancy-related disability.

The ADA also requires that employers keep all medical records and information, including those that are pregnancy-related, confidential and in separate medical files > (All ADA related files are kept in the ADA Office!

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees of employers with 50 or more employees to take up to 12 workweeks of leave for, among other things, the birth and care of the employee's newborn child and for the employee's own serious health condition.  The Department of Labor enforces the FMLA.  For more information about the FMLA see http://www.dol.gov/whd.
  • Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide "reasonable break time" for hourly employees to express breast milk until the child's first birthday.  Employers are required to provide "a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk." Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to this requirement if it "would impose an undue hardship by causing significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, nature, or structure of the employer's business."  DOL has published a Fact Sheet providing general information on the break time requirement for nursing mothers.  
  • The Fact Sheet can be found at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs73.htm.