Federal Laws Related to Pregnancy, Leave and Breastfeeding Rights in the Workplace

Federal Laws Related to Pregnancy, Leave and Breastfeeding Rights in the Workplace

FEDERAL LAWS

Return to Pregancy Laws Map

Prohibitions against Pregnancy Discrimination

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by clarifying that sex discrimination includes pregnancy discrimination.[1]  It is illegal for an employer with 15 or more employees to fail to hire, discharge, or discriminate in compensation, promotion, or terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.[2] 

The PDA further states that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs, as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.[3]

For the text of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, click here.

Pregnancy Accommodation

Current Law

The PDA may require an employee to accommodate the needs of an employee in regards to her pregnancy, especially if other similarly situated employees in the workplace are so accommodated.[4]  For more information regarding rights to pregnancy accommodation, contact Legal Momentum.

Proposed Law

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) would expand and further guarantee accommodations for pregnant women, and has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. It would establish that it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer with 15 or more employees not make reasonable accommodations to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of the employee, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business.

For the text of the pending bill in the House of Representatives, click here.

Pregnancy-related Disability Accommodation

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) may require an employer to provide accommodation for a pregnancy related impairment or disability.

For more information regarding rights to pregnancy accommodation, contact Legal Momentum.

For the text of the ADAAA, click here

Breastfeeding Rights

Discrimination

At this time, the PDA does not specifically protect a woman’s right to breastfeed at work. However, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal court, recently decided that discriminating against a female employee because she is lactating or seeking to express breast milk may constitute sex discrimination under the PDA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.[5] For more information regarding rights to breastfeeding or expressing milk at work, contact Legal Momentum.

For the text of the case, click here.

Breastfeeding at Work - Current Law

The Fair Labor Standards Act, amended by the Afford Health Care Act in 2012, requires that an employer with 50 or more employees must provide its hourly workers:

·         a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk; and,

·        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 less than 50 employees are not subject to these requirements if such requirements would impose an undue hardship and the law does not apply to salaried employees.[6]

For the text of the statute, click here.

Breastfeeding at Work - Proposed Law

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have both introduced legislation to amend the breastfeeding provision to expand the right to breast feet at work to salaried employees. The bills have not yet been voted on or passed.

For the text of the Senate bill, click here.

Family and Childcare Leave Laws

The Family and Medical Leave Act provides that an employer with 50 or more employees must provide eligible employees a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period because of: the birth of a son or daughter of the employee and in order to care for such son or daughter; the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care; care necessary for one’s self or a son or daughter, if he or she has a serious health condition. 

For additional details related to eligibility or coverage, click here.

For the text of the statute, click here.



[1] 42U.S.C. § 2000e-(k)

[2] Id. § 2000e-2

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] E.E.O.C. v. Houston Funding II, Ltd., 2013 WL 2360114 (5th Cir. 2013)

[6] 29 U.S.C. § 207(r)

Contact Us

HEADQUARTERS

16 East 34th Street, 6th Floor

New York, NY 10016

(212) 925-6635

E-MAIL

Media Inquiries: info@legalmomentum.org

Request Help or Other Inquiries: peo@legalmomentum.org

Donations and Events: friends@legalmomentum.org

Website Issues: info@legalmomentum.org

Join our mailing list.