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Is Pregnancy A Disability?

At first, asking if pregnancy is a disability may seem silly. A disability is defined as a genetic or otherwise inherent condition that affects every aspect of one’s life, while pregnancy is a temporary and voluntary condition. However, legally, pregnancy is commonly seen as a disability because it meets the definition propagated under the relevant laws. In fact, it is a ground on which an employee can face discrimination. If you suspect your employer is discriminating against you based on pregnancy, you may be able to file a charge against them. Also be sure to reach out to the law firm of Hitchcock & Potts for top legal assistance.

Illegal To Discriminate

Pregnancy is not considered a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). However, it is still against the law to discriminate based on pregnancy. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was passed in 1978 to amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Before this amendment, it was common to fire or otherwise treat female workers negatively if they were pregnant. The PDA explicitly forbids discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or any related medical condition (for example, postpartum complications or issues like preeclampsia), given that all these forms of discrimination were relatively commonplace before its passage.

Like many other antidiscrimination laws, the PDA only applies to employers with 15 or more employees. South Carolina recently passed its own Pregnancy Accommodations Act (PAA) in 2018, which also applies to employers with 15 or more workers, but it actually provides more guidelines for employers than its federal counterpart. For example, the South Carolina law requires that employers provide reasonable accommodation for pregnancy-related conditions, including lactation, unless it would be an undue hardship to do so.

Like Any Other Temporary Disability

The crux of the PDA and South Carolina’s PAA is that workers who are pregnant must be treated the same as any other worker with a temporary disability. If, for example, your employer allows reasonable accommodations or leave for someone who breaks a leg, they must allow it for a pregnant worker as well. The same holds true for seniority, raises, or any other employee benefit—the rules must be applied in exactly the same way as they would for any other temporarily disabled employee.

Pregnant workers must also be permitted to take leave if they qualify to do so under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Generally, federal and South Carolina law require that if a pregnant worker is still able to perform their job, they should be permitted to do so. But leave is an option as well—the FMLA governs workers taking leave for “serious health conditions,” and pregnancy qualifies under this definition. If your employer refuses to allow you to take leave and is not able to show an undue burden, you may have grounds to allege discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission.

Contact A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Attorney

When you are pregnant, your health and the health of your child should be priority one, rather than having to worry about your job. If you feel you have been discriminated against, you should contact an experienced attorney so you have a clear picture of your options going forward. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has been handling these cases for many years and is happy to sit down to help you with yours. Contact the firm of Hitchcock & Potts today to speak to an attorney.

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