Pregnancy Rights for Women and Men

Ron Poliquin, Delaware Employment Lawyer. We are going to be talking about pregnancy rights for women and men under the law, specifically, under federal law Title 7 the big one. The Civil Rights Act of 1962 is the federal law that protects employees from discrimination based on sex.

Now when we first encountered this issue in 1976, General Electric actually fired a married employee because she was pregnant. This case went to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court held that discrimination, because of pregnancy, was not discrimination over an employee’s sex. This may surprise us today, however predictable, there was a firestorm of public outcry over this opinion.

That led to what we know as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. The Act added pregnancy and everything that goes with pregnancy, including breastfeeding to Title 7. Meaning that individuals could not be discriminated based on pregnancy. The Act provides that pregnant workers be provided opportunities only based on their ability or inability.

Just recently there was a jury, here in Delaware in the last year, that ruled that a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee must pay a Delaware woman $1.5 million in damages as related to workplace discrimination because they made it ultimately impossible for her to breastfeed her child at work. She was allowed only one hour of breastfeeding per shift. In addition, other co-workers complained about her taking breaks because she was breastfeeding. That created a hostile work environment which the employer did not remedy. So, that led to a large jury award in an employment case as of this year.

Now the question, might be surprising, can men be protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act? The Supreme Court has said YES! In the Newport News Shipbuilding case, the EEOC, Newport News gave pregnancy benefits including maternity leave to female employees but not male employees. Ultimately the Supreme Court decided that was a violation of Title 7. You need to be assertive if you’re being discriminated against because of pregnancy gender or if you have another employment issue please feel free to contact my office. Go to, this is Ron Poliquin thank you for your time.

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