Pregnancy-bias law covers even nonpregnant women

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in Hiring,Human Resources,Maternity Leave Laws

You may know that the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) says employers can't fire (or refuse to hire) a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, because of her pregnancy-related condition or because of co-workers' or customers' prejudices.

Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they're able to perform their jobs effectively. If a pregnant employee is absent as a result of her condition and then recovers, she can't be required to remain on leave until the baby's birth.

You also need to know about another less-obvious part of the law: Female employees who are not pregnant can be covered by the PDA, too. How? The law also makes it illegal to discriminate against women because of the possibility that they will become pregnant or because of their previous pregnancy troubles.

Example: You can't refuse to hire a newly married woman because you believe she may become pregnant soon. Also, you can't refuse to rehire someone because she had resigned earlier to have children.

Case in point: A nurse at an Ohio health care facility resigned after suffering pregnancy complications. After recovering, she reapplied twice, but wasn't rehired. She filed a PDA lawsuit and won. As evidence, she said the hiring manager asked her whether she planned to have more children.

The company had argued that PDA didn't apply because she wasn't pregnant, but the court said that didn't matter. The PDA also bans discrimination against women because of their "capacity to become pregnant."

Final tip: Never, ever ask female applicants (or female employees) anything about their childbirth plans; it's a major legal "no-no." (For details on the PDA, see www .eeoc.gov/types/pregnancy.html.)

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