Boston Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer

For many women, pregnancy is an exciting yet overwhelming time, and the last thing a pregnant woman should worry about is job security. As long as they are physically capable of performing their job, pregnant women legally must be allowed to work. Unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination in the workplace does exist, and it is essential for women to understand what it is, how to recognize it, and what to do if they believe they are being discriminated against.

What is pregnancy discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination is defined as treating an employee or applicant unfavorably or differently because of pregnancy, intent to be pregnant, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy. This can include harassing comments, changes to job duties or compensation, denial of a job or promotion, and more. It’s also important to note that because pregnancy and childbirth are gender-specific, pregnancy discrimination may also amount to sex discrimination under state and federal law.

What are the federal laws surrounding pregnancy discrimination?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, states that:

“Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. Women affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations.”

Under this law, employers may not treat employees and applicants who are affected by pregnancy or related conditions less favorably than employees who are affected by other conditions but who are similarly able or unable to work. The law also requires that an employee who has taken maternity leave be restored to her previous (or similar) position upon her return to employment including the same status, pay, length of service credit, and seniority held prior to the leave.

Are there Massachusetts-specific laws for pregnancy discrimination?

Yes.  In April of 2018, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act amended the current statute that prohibits discrimination in employment.

The amendment expressly prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, such as lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child.  It also describes employers’ obligations to employees that are pregnant or lactating and the protections these employees