Pregnancy Discrimination


It Happened to Me: Pregnancy Discrimination


What are the laws in Maryland regarding pregnancy discrimination in employment?


The Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act, Title VII, and the Family Medical Leave Act provide protections against pregnancy discrimination. In Maryland, disabilities caused or contributed to by pregnancy or childbirth, are considered to be temporary disabilities for all job-related purposes. Written and unwritten employment policies and practices apply to disabilities due to pregnancy or childbirth in the same manner they apply to other temporary disabilities subject to the provisions of this act.


Does the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act apply to my employer?


The Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act applies to almost all Maryland employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations. This law does not cover private membership clubs (other than labor unions) and elected officials. It also does not include religious corporations, associations, educational institutions or societies with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion or sexual orientation to perform its activities.


Under Maryland law, what is illegal?


An employer cannot refuse to hire or discriminate against a woman because she is pregnant. A pregnant woman must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations.


More specifically, an employer cannot:
Fire or subject an employee to more adverse terms of employment than others because she is pregnant or may become pregnant;
Treat pregnancy-related conditions differently from other disabling conditions;
Discriminate against pregnant women with respect to fringe benefits;
Require an employee to take mandatory maternity leave; or
Discriminate against an employee because she is pregnant and unmarried.


Who enforces the law?


The Maryland Commission on Human Relations (MCHR) enforces state law concerning pregnancy discrimination claims. The EEOC enforces federal claims brought under Title VII.


Does it matter when the discrimination took place?


The claim must be filed with the MCHR within six months of the date that the last discriminatory act or event at issue took place.


What must I prove to win my case?


To win on a case for pregnancy discrimination under Maryland law, you must show that:
(1) your employer knew of the pregnancy; and
(2) your employer took some adverse employment action against you or denied you some benefit afforded to other employees because of your pregnancy.


You may also show that the discrimination against you was part of a pattern or practice of discrimination against all pregnant employees or applicants by your employer. You're not required to prove that your employer acted intentionally or with any ill will.


Under federal law, what is illegal?


The Pregnancy Discrimination Act forbids an employer from refusing to hire, terminating or "otherwise discriminat[ing] against any individual with respect to [her] compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of [her] sex..."

The law defines "because of [her] sex" to mean "because of...pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions..."

To discriminate against pregnant women is illegal under federal law.

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 also provides further protection for pregnant women under federal law, along with certain rights.

For more information on federal claims, see Federal Pregnancy Discrimination


Who does the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 cover?


An employee must have worked for at least 12 months for the employer and for at least 1250 hours in the previous 12-month period to be eligible. A private employer must employ 50 or more employees within 75 miles of a given workplace for the Act to apply. It also applies to public agencies.


Does your employer have to keep your job for you while you are on maternity leave?


Yes. Under FMLA, at the end of leave, your employer must provide you with your position or one equivalent to it.


Can your employer lower your status or seniority while you are on maternity leave?


No. Under FMLA, your employer cannot penalize you for the absence.


What could my employer do to deny my allegations, and how do I respond to its denials?


The employer could argue that the adverse employment action against you or the denial of some benefit was not in response to knowledge of the employee's pregnancy. You must be able to show the causal connection between the knowledge of the employee's pregnancy and the adverse action or denial.


How do I go about filing a claim for pregnancy discrimination?


For more information, see How do I File a Claim


What are some other online resources I can look at?


For more information about filing state claims, see Maryland Commission on Human Relations


For more information on federal claims, see Federal Laws on Pregnancy Discrimination.


Where can I go for help?


The Maryland Commission on Human Relations
6 St. Paul Street, 9th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202


The Montgomery County Office of Human Rights
110 N. Washington Street, Suite 200
Rockville, MD 20850


The Maryland Commission for Women
45 Calvert Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
Toll free 1-877-868-2196


The Montgomery County Commission for WomenCounseling & Career Center
401 N. Washington Street, Suite 100
Rockville, MD 20850


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(Baltimore District Office)
10 S. Howard Street, 3rd Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202


Women's Bureau -- Work and Family Clearinghouse
200 Constitution Avenue
U.S. Department of Labor
Washington, DC 20210
(toll free) 1-800-827-5335



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