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Pregnancy Discrimination Act: Guarantee of Equal Treatment, Not Preferential Treatment

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 77 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2008 Pages: 26-32
Lisa A. Baker J.D.
Date Published
March 2008
7 pages
This article addresses the minimum that is legally required of an employer facing a situation involving a pregnant employee.
Because of the special physical demands placed on officers and the possibility of violent confrontation at anytime during the workday, law enforcement employers face a complex situation when an officer announces that she is pregnant. The needs of law enforcement employers and employees are unique. Understanding what the law requires and, equally important, what it does not require is critical when faced with these situations. This act is discussed in terms of equal, not special treatment; light duty programs; conditions covered by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act; benefits programs; limited preferences and the Family Medical Leave Act. The condition of pregnancy presents a unique challenge within the context of discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes sex within its protected characteristics. In 1975, early guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggested that pregnancy and other pregnancy-related conditions were to be included within Title VII coverage. However, this was short-lived because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that pregnancy discrimination was not discrimination based on sex. In response, Congress amended Title VII by passing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. In this Act, Congress amended Title VII to provide that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs, as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work. Endnotes