Employer Discrimination on the Basis of Abortion
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), interprets and enforces Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination as forbidding any employment discrimination by employers against employees based upon race, color, gender, religion, sex, age, genetic information, or national origin.
Pregnancy discrimination may take the form of both disparate treatment (pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition as a motivating factor in an adverse employment action), or disparate impact (a neutral policy or practice has a significant negative impact on women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, and either the policy or practice is not job related and consistent with business necessity, or there is a less discriminatory alternative and the employer has refused to adopt it).
Title VII protects employees from more than just discrimination while they are pregnant. Additional, and often times unknown protections are available to employees that an employer must understand and follow. Title VII further protects women from being fired for having an abortion or contemplating having an abortion. However, Title VII makes clear that an employer that offers health insurance is not required to pay for coverage of abortion except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or medical complications have arisen from an abortion. The statute further makes clear that, although not required to do so, an employer is permitted to provide health insurance coverage for abortion. Title VII would similarly prohibit adverse employment actions against an employee based on her decision not to have an abortion.
It is important for an employer to understand their responsibilities under Title VII regarding their employees who are currently, or are planning to become pregnant and insure that their policies and benefits do not run afoul of Title VII and treat pregnancy employees differently than all other employees.
If you are an employer and are faced with an employee claim of discrimination under Title VII, or are facing a claim under jurisdiction of the EEOC, contact the experienced employment law attorneys today at 203-221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com. We have the experience and knowledge you need at this critical juncture. We serve clients in both New York and Connecticut including New Canaan, Bridgeport, White Plains, and Darien.
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