By now you know that employers can’t fire or otherwise punish employees because they’re pregnant, plan to become pregnant or just gave birth. But what about employees who choose to have an abortion?
Make sure your supervisors know it’s illegal to discriminate against them, too. A recent 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals decision makes clear that the (PDA) covers abortions.
Recent case: An employee known only as Jane Doe worked as a graphic artist for a car insurance company. After six months on the job, she became pregnant and told her boss. Then she learned that the child was severely deformed and made the decision to terminate the pregnancy. She took a week off for the procedure and recovery and to bury the child.
Her employer then fired her, ostensibly for not following company vacation-leave guidelines. She sued, alleging that she was punished for having an abortion.
The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals sided with her and sent her case to trial. It concluded that the PDA says employers can’t discriminate on the basis of sex, which includes “pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.” Abortion is a related medical condition, it reasoned. The case will now go to trial, and the company will have to show it fired Doe for violating a vacation policy. (Jane Doe v. C.A.R.S. Protection, No. 06-3625, 3rd Cir., 2008)
Final note: Make sure your leave policies do not discriminate on the basis of how a pregnancy ends—whether in childbirth, miscarriage or abortion. This is not an area where moral qualms should be allowed to enter. The PDA clearly covers elective abortions, too.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Ignoring complaints: Bad strategy likely to backfire
- Beware policies forcing workers to take leave: That can be considered an adverse action
- Under 50 employees? How FMLA could apply to you regardless
- Make sure handbook spells out maternity leave terms