The Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions related to pregnancy. This law only applies to places that employ 15 or more workers.
• If a woman can perform the essential functions of a job, it is illegal to refuse to hire her based on pregnancy.
• A pregnant woman cannot be fired because of her pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions related to pregnancy if she is able to perform the essential functions of her job.
• If a woman is sick or temporarily unable to perform her job because of her pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions related to pregnancy, her employer must treat her the same way that the employer treats any other worker who suffers from a temporary physical or mental impediment.
• The employer must keep the job available for a woman who misses work because of her pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions related to pregnancy for the same amount of time that the job would be left open for any person who misses work because of any other illness or incapacity.
• Some women may qualify for additional leave under the Family Medical Leave Act.
Verónica was recruited from her hometown in Guanajuato, Mexico to come to the US on a special visa, called an H2A visa. When she arrived in the US, after paying a lot of money in visa and travel costs, she worked hard, cutting greens and harvesting onions. Although she was 4 months pregnant when she arrived, she was always a good worker. When the field work became too hard for her, she asked her crew leader to transfer her to the packinghouse, like they would always do for workers who were sick or injured. After she had worked in the packinghouse for about three months, the supervisor and his wife came to talk to her. They told her that she should go back to Mexico to have the baby and that they did not have a job for her anymore. She was 8 months pregnant and suddenly found herself without a job to support herself and her family. She also became homeless because she was kicked out of the employer-provided housing. What happened to Verónica is called pregnancy discrimination. No woman should lose their job just because she is pregnant. She joined a lawsuit with some other workers and alleged pregnancy discrimination. Verónica and the other workers eventually reached an agreement with the farm labor contractor who had discriminated against her.