Pregnancy Discrimination

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) is an amendment to Title VII. The PDA prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Women who are pregnant or who are affected by pregnancy-related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities and limitations.

As federal law, Title VII and the PDA govern Rhode Island employers; both apply to employers who have at least fifteen (15) employees working each day for the twenty (20) weeks preceding the filing of the civil claim. Both statutes apply to all private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions.

In order to bring a civil claim under Title VII or the PDA, an individual must first file a charge if discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Plaintiffs successful in bringing suit under Title VII may be entitled to back pay, reinstatement or front pay, compensatory damages, and attorneys’ fees. In cases where the employer acted intentionally, with malice, or with reckless disregard, a successful plaintiff may also be awarded punitive damages.

In addition, the Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act (“FEPA”), §28-5-1 et seq. prohibits employers from discriminating against invididuals, including employees and applicants, on the basis of sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and pregnancy-related medical conditions. This is true for all companies that have four (4) or more employees.

The FEPA also requires Rhode Island employers to accommodate an employee’s or prospective employee’s condition related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. This includes an employee’s need to express breast milk for a nursing child while at work.

If you or someone you know believe you have been discriminated against due to pregnancy, please contact us to discuss your matter.

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