HR Compliance

7 Best Practices to Help Prevent Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace


Kristin Birchell

| Dec 18, 2017

Discrimination laws regarding pregnant women apply in every area of employment — including hiring, firing, seniority rights and job security. Employers who violate these laws potentially face huge fines and legal fees. Therefore, it is imperative to take measures to reduce the risks of pregnancy discrimination and to provide your pregnant employees with a safe and non-discriminatory work environment.

7 Best Practices

  1. Know the law. The best way to avoid pregnancy discrimination in your company is to understand the applicable federal, state and local laws, and stay up-to-date on them.
  2. Have an employee handbook or other written policies in place to address the requirements under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, Family and Medical Leave Act and other applicable state and local laws. Review and update these policies regularly, and follow them always.

Evaluate your current policies to ensure they do not disproportionately impact pregnant workers. If they do, determine whether they are necessary for the business’s operations. Include policies related to reasonable accommodations, benefits, paid or unpaid leave and time off, break times, discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

  1. Develop a procedure for investigating and responding to pregnancy discrimination complaints.
  2. Engage in dialogue with pregnant employees regarding reasonable accommodations. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the courts look closely at the interactive process documentation; therefore, establishing and documenting that process will help ensure a good-faith effort toward compliance has been made.
  3. Maintain updated job descriptions that reflect the duties, functions and competencies of job positions.
  4. Train managers and employees regularly about their rights and responsibilities.
  5. Educate management on company policies. Ensure that employment decisions are not based on management’s view of what it thinks is in the best interest of the pregnant employee. Take into consideration how the company treats non-pregnant employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

The EEOC has issued enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination, which can be found here, listing its suggested employer best practices.

For more information on pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, visit the additional posts on this topic:


Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.

About the Author

Kristin Birchell

As a compliance attorney for Paycom, Kristin Birchell monitors legal and regulatory changes at the state and federal level, with a focus on labor and employment laws, to ensure the Paycom system is updated accordingly. Previously, she served as an attorney at the Oklahoma City law firm Derryberry & Naifeh LLP. Birchell earned a bachelor’s degree and MBA from the University of Central Missouri, and her Juris Doctor from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, hiking, going to the movies and spending time with her husband.

See more posts by Kristin Birchell