It is illegal to discriminate against an employee who is pregnant or has a related medical condition under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978
Have you experienced discrimination due to your pregnancy? Call Houston Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Shane A. McClelland at 713-987-7100 for a free case evaluation to discuss your pregnancy discrimination claim.
Thirty-five years ago, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act that changes Title VII to clarify that pregnant employees share the same protections as other employees under Title VII.
An employer cannot refuse to hire a woman because of her pregnancy-related condition as long as she is able to perform the major functions of her job. A woman cannot be fired, demoted, or denied a promotion because she is or may become pregnant.
A woman affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations. An employer must give a pregnant woman the same level of rights, benefits, and reinstatement privileges given to other workers who are temporarily disabled.
A pregnant woman must be allowed to work as long as she is able to perform her job duties. If a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job duties, because of a pregnancy-related condition, then she should be treated the same as any other temporarily disabled employee, by providing modified tasks, alternative assignments, disability leave, or leave without pay.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission summarizes some of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act’s protections as follows:
- An employer may not single out pregnancy-related conditions for special procedures to determine the employee’s ability to work, but it may use any procedure used to screen other employees’ ability to work.
- An employer cannot force a woman to stop working and take pregnancy leave at any time during her pregnancy if she is still willing and able to perform her job.
- If an employer’s health plan includes spousal coverage, the employer cannot deny coverage for the pregnancy care of a male employees’ spouse.
- Pregnancy-related benefits cannot be limited to married employees.
- Employer-provided health insurance must cover pregnancy-related conditions as it does for costs of other conditions.
Potential damages under Title VII and the Texas Labor Code’s anti-discrimination provisions for pregnancy discrimination are:
- Back pay – Consisting of wages, salary and fringe benefits you would have earned during the period of discrimination from termination to trial
- Compensatory damages – Allowed for future loss, emotional distress, pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life
There are limits to what you can recover for pregnancy discrimination. The limits are determined according to the size of your employer. The limits on damages are as follows:
- Up to 100 employees: $50,000
- 101-200 employees: $100,000
- 201-500 employees: $200,000
- 500+ employees: $300,000
If you bring a discrimination claim under Title VII or the Texas Labor Code’s anti-discrimination provisions, you must first file a charge of discrimination with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission. There are very specific deadlines from which you must file your charge of discrimination or complaint, and you must file your charge of discrimination or complaint before you can file a lawsuit.
Determining whether your employer is covered under Title VII or the Texas Labor Code’s anti-discrimination provisions can be complicated. In order to help you make this determination, you should contact our offices as soon as possible so we can help you with that determination.
If you think your pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition is the reason for employment discrimination, please contact a Houston Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer at Herbert & McClelland LLP.