Understanding the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Joyce B. Robinson

January 6, 2022

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(This article first appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. Women affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

Pregnancy Discrimination Violates the Collective Bargaining Agreement

Pregnancy Discrimination also violates the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the Postal Service and the Union. The CBA Article 2, Non-Discrimination and Civil Rights, Section 1. Statement of Principle states: “The Employer and the Union agree that there shall be no discrimination by the Employer or the Union against employees because of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy), age, or marital status.”

Therefore, if an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job due to pregnancy, she must be treated the same as any other temporarily disabled employee by providing light duty, modified tasks, alternative assignments, disability leave, and/or leave without pay. In addition, it violates the Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM), Article 672.1 b.

Pregnancy and Maternity Leave

Under the PDA, an employer may not single out pregnancy-related conditions for medical clearance procedures that are not required of employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. If an employee has been absent from work as a result of a pregnancy-related condition and recovers, her employer may not require her to remain on leave until the baby’s birth. Nor may an employer have a rule that prohibits an employee from returning to work for a predetermined length of time after childbirth. Temporarily disabled leave or leave without pay must be granted for pregnancy the same as for other illness. A job must be held open for a pregnancy related absence the same length of time that jobs are held open for employees on sick or temporary disability leave.

What to Do if You are a Victim of Pregnancy Discrimination

If you feel that you are a victim of pregnancy discrimination, take the following actions:
Write down what happened – Record the date, time, and place of the incident, include what was said, and identify witnesses. Keep a copy of these notes at home.
Contact your union representative – File a grievance within 14 days of the incident citing a violation of Article 2, Article 13, Article 19, and Article 30.
Keep copies of job evaluations – Keep records at home of all evaluations that show that you do a good job at work. Your supervisor may criticize your job performance later in order to defend the discrimination.
File a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – A pregnancy discrimination charge must be filed within 45 days of the discriminatory action in order to preserve your legal rights. You can file a charge even if you do not work for the Postal Service anymore.

Resources used were: Pregnancy Discrimination Act, US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Collective Bargaining Agreement Between APWU and USPS, and the ELM.






January 25 - APWU Live with the President

Join APWU Live with the President Livestream on January 25 at 7:00pm ET! During the event, President Dimondstein will discuss and answer questions on the Tentative Agreement, and provide updates on the ratification process. Register and submit questions for the event at apwu.org/live. The recording of the APWU Live will be available to view at apwu.org/live and youtube.com/apwucommunications following the event.

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