Pregnancy and Parenting Discrimination

Women are too often fired from or forced out of jobs when their employers learn that they are pregnant. Many employers fire pregnant workers on the spot, particularly in low-wage sectors dominated by women. Others force pregnant workers off the job by refusing to grant them the same kinds of temporary modifications – such as light duty assignments -- that are routinely granted to other workers who need them.

Firing women because they are pregnant, or treating pregnant workers worse than other workers who are also temporarily unable to perform some aspect of the job, has been illegal since 1978, when Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. But employers still do it, and, unfortunately, some courts have upheld these practices when employers come up with a “pregnancy-blind” reason to leave pregnant workers out in the cold. When women are pushed out of the workplace, they lose important income and benefits, contributing to a gender wealth gap between men and women.

Some women are fired because their employers do not believe that unmarried women should become pregnant. But religious institutions and other employers with religious or moral objections of this kind do not have a free pass to discriminate against women who choose to become pregnant.

After they give birth, women workers are the targets of discrimination if they need to pump breast milk to remain on the job. And both women and men who engage in caretaking suffer workplace discrimination based on gender stereotypes.

The ACLU has long fought back against these discriminatory practices in the courts and in the legislatures. Women have been fighting the stereotype that they should be at home, barefoot and pregnant, instead of at work for decades. More than 35 years after the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was enacted, it's time for employers to realize they can't force pregnant and parenting workers off the job.

RESOURCES

Federal Law and Advocacy

Here you’ll find an overview of federal laws protecting pregnant, post-partum, and breastfeeding women, as well as well as resources related to the ACLU’s efforts to end pregnancy discrimination at the federal level.
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Know Your Rights: Pregnant, Post-Partum, & Breastfeeding Workers

Federal law offers several protections against discrimination on the job during and after your pregnancy. This guide addresses common issues facing pregnant and breastfeeding workers.
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IN THE COURTS

Recent Court Cases

The ACLU has participated in key cases concerning women facing pregnancy discrimination and discrimination against new mothers. Unfortunately, discrimination does not end once a woman gives birth. The ACLU advocates on behalf of pregnant workers, as well as women workers who face discrimination for pumping breast milk.
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NEWS

Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy and employment are not mutually exclusive. If you are a member of the paid workforce, you should not have to choose between having a family and keeping your job. The ACLU advocates on behalf of women who face these discriminatory practices.
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Tell Us Your Story

Have you or someone you know experienced discrimination?
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