Employment Discrimination Against Pregnant Women Barred

1978

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is passed in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1974 decision in Geduldig v. Aiello, which found that the exclusion of pregnant women from a company’s disability insurance plan was not illegal sex discrimination under the 14th Amendment. The Court holds that the distinction was only between pregnant persons and non-pregnant persons, and not based on sex. The law, which amended Title VII, ensured that employment discrimination on account of pregnancy is treated as unlawful sex-based discrimination. As a result, employers could not question potential hires about their plans to have children and had to extend benefits equally. For example, if the employer allowed workers sick time or disability for other medical conditions, they had to do so for pregnancy as well and women could not be forced to take a pregnancy leave if she is willing and able to work.