As a business owner, you are continually balancing between extremes. You want to provide the best client experience possible while taking in the highest profit possible. You endeavor to support your team and see them flourish personally and professionally, and you want to safeguard the interests of your business and your own financial future.
No matter what circumstances you find yourself in with regard to staffing, whether you’re experiencing a staff shortage or are about to execute a round of layoffs, you will want to shield your business from litigation. One way you could put your business at risk is by engaging in pregnancy discrimination.
What is pregnancy discrimination?
If you have more than 15 employees, your business is covered under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) which forbids employers to engage in employment discrimination due to pregnancy. This amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant as long as she can still perform the major job functions of the position.
It also forbids the refusal to hire a pregnant woman based on prejudices held by the employer, other employees or clients. If she is the most qualified candidate for the position and can perform the work, she should be offered employment.
Of course, this same law applies to discrimination in other employment decisions such as pay, benefits, promotions, layoffs, termination and any other term or condition of employment. If you are making tough decisions regarding layoffs, for example, you must base your decisions on business considerations that are not based on whether or not someone is pregnant.
Engaging in pregnancy discrimination opens your business up to lawsuits. Understanding your rights and responsibilities as an employer can protect you from the fallout of litigation.