The “Intent” to Become Pregnant is Protected!
The EEOC has found that female employees can be discriminated against based merely upon their intent to become pregnant! Recently, a high-level female executive who has a two-year-old son, told her manager she was trying to get pregnant. The manager reacted with displeasure, stating that the pregnancy might interfere with her job responsibilities. Two weeks later, the employee was demoted to a lower paid position with no supervisory responsibilities. In response to the employee’s EEOC charge, the employer asserts it demoted the employee because of her inability to delegate tasks effectively. The employee’s performance evaluations were consistently outstanding, with no mention of such a concern. The timing of the demotion, the manager’s reaction to the employee’s disclosure, and the documentary evidence refuting the employer’s explanation made it clear that the employer had engaged in unlawful discrimination.
Employers have to understand (and use common sense) females will be protected under any circumstances surrounding pregnancy. They are eligible for these protections from day one of their employment if the employer has 15 or more employees. Some states offer the protection with only 5 employees. To avoid any misunderstanding, I have taken the following directly from
the EEOC website.
c. Discrimination Based on Infertility Treatment
Employment decisions related to infertility treatments implicate Title VII under limited circumstances. Because surgical impregnation is intrinsically tied to a woman’s childbearing capacity, an inference of unlawful sex discrimination may be raised if, for example, an employee is penalized for taking time off from work to undergo such a procedure. In contrast, with respect to the exclusion of infertility from employer-provided health insurance, courts have generally held that exclusions of all infertility coverage for all employees is gender neutral and does not violate Title VII. Title VII may be implicated by exclusions of particular treatments that apply only to one gender.
d. Discrimination Based on Use of Contraception
Depending on the specific circumstances, employment decisions based on a female employee’s use of contraceptives may constitute unlawful discrimination based on gender and/or pregnancy. Contraception is a means by which a woman can control her capacity to become pregnant, and, therefore, Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination based on potential pregnancy necessarily includes a prohibition on discrimination related to a woman’s use of contraceptives. For example, an employer could not discharge a female employee from her job because she uses contraceptives.
Employers can violate Title VII by providing health insurance that excludes coverage of prescription contraceptives, whether the contraceptives are prescribed for birth control or for medical purposes. Because prescription contraceptives are available only for women, a health insurance plan facially discriminates against women on the basis of gender if it excludes prescription contraception but otherwise provides comprehensive coverage. To comply with Title VII, an employer’s health insurance plan must cover prescription contraceptives on the same basis as prescription drugs, devices, and services that are used to prevent the occurrence of medical conditions other than pregnancy. For example, if an employer’s health insurance plan covers preventive care for medical conditions other than pregnancy, such as vaccinations, physical examinations, prescription drugs that prevent high blood pressure or to lower cholesterol levels, and/or preventive dental care, then prescription contraceptives also must be covered.
4. Medical Condition Related to Pregnancy or Childbirth
a. In General
Title VII prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Thus, an employer may not discriminate against a woman with a medical condition relating to pregnancy or childbirth and must treat her the same as others who are similar in their ability or inability to work but are not affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
The above information is not commonly known. I would strongly recommend printing the above information and keeping it in the internal human resources file for reference should a circumstance present itself.