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Pregnancy Discrimination

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is an amendment to Title VII. It prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. As with Title VII, it provides protection in the case of hiring, firing, promotions, leaves, benefits, pay increases and other terms and conditions of employment.

Can my supervisor force me to take pregnancy leave?

No. As long as you are able to perform your job you can remain at work. In addition, your employer may not mandate when you may return to work. Pregnancy is treated as a disability and you should be allowed to return to work as soon as you are able.

May my employer charge me a larger health insurance premium because I am pregnant?

Here again, the answer is no. Any health insurance provided by the employer must be provided to you on the same basis as for other medical conditions.

I have to reduce my workforce and I have an employee out on pregnancy leave, must I guarantee her position?

The law does not provide this type of protection. Had the pregnant employee been at work, she would have been subject to the staff reduction. As long as the reduction is based on business necessity and not the pregnancy, her position could be subject to being cut.

Does the Pregnancy Discrimination Act cover breastfeeding?

The law does not address breastfeeding. However, check with your state, as a number of jurisdictions do have laws which allow for breastfeeding in public areas.

Polygraph (Lie Detector) Tests

In 1988, Congress passed the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA), which prohibits most private employers from using lie detector tests for either preemployment screening or during the course of regular employment. The act does allow an employer to request an employee to submit to a test in connection with an ongoing investigation if it has a reasonable suspicion that the employee was involved. However, this is only permitted if the employer provides the employee with a written statement describing the basis of the reasonable suspicion.

Are there any exemptions from this act?

Yes, but they are limited. In addition to "reasonable suspicion," security firm and drug manufacturers may have the right to test. However, they cannot deny employment or discharge or discriminate against employees based solely on the test.

What are my rights if I am subject to a test?

If you are subject to the test, you are entitled to reasonable notice as to when and where the test will take place. You also have the right to consult with an attorney or an employee representative before the test is given.

Can my employer ask me to waive my rights under the EPPA?

No. An employee cannot waive these rights.