Discrimination is termed as any disorientation from the normal activities due to the conditions that one has. Discrimination in terms of pregnancy occurs when a woman is denied some opportunities in the basis that she is pregnant or to the fact that she can later become pregnant. Some of the discriminations that pregnant women face include denial of promotion in the work place, inability to be hired, and firing after pregnancy or after maternity leave. Others are lack of medical coverage by employing company in case of pregnancy or forced leave to a woman who is affected by childbirth, pregnancy or adoption of a child(" Pregnancy Discrimination Act", 2008).
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After the civil right Act of 1964 that gave light and emphasis on sexual discrimination, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was enacted following the amendment of Title VII of the latter Act. This bill was signed by President Carter in October 1978. The major objective of the Act was to bring equity between men and women in the corporate arena. In this context, the Act was expected to ensure fairness in treatment of both men and women by employers. The Act provided that pregnancy was a temporally medical condition like any other and women were to be treated equally to men in case they are pregnant e.g. equal pay for equal work ("Equal Employment Opportunity", n.d.).The law also prohibited that no women would be denied any work place opportunities as long as she proved her ability and capability to work in that capacity.
It prohibited employers to impose leave to pregnant women. Such a decision was left to be the woman as long as she delivered the expected service to her employer. The Act also stated that no employer will deny sick leave to a woman on conditions related to pregnancy e.g. morning sickness.
Another major provision of the law was that any pregnant woman would be subject to fringe benefits program of the company she works for. This included coverage for hospitalization and medication, salary continuation during leave, sick leaves and temporally disability provisions. It hence offered a platform where all benefits arising from the work place were equally offered to all members of the organization. The act however included some loopholes and therefore lacked 100% efficiency e.g. if a company did not provide any medical benefits to its employees, then pregnant women would have no claims for special pregnancy considerations. It also did not affect pregnancy related issues beyond the work place.
Generally, the Act was effective and of great benefit to women as companies became sensitive to issues pertaining pregnancy. It efficiency is shown when evidence shows that many cases filed against companies defiling the law were successful (Bohlander & Snell, 2007). Such cases have resulted in compensation of the affected women in monetary terms and also job security. Following the enactment of the law in 1978, some states have noticeably implemented laws that give great mandate to the provision of the Act. Some states have hence provided for sick leaves to pregnant women for upto 120 days of unpaid leave.
Some feminist organizations also worked to make a distinction to the society that the Act did not offer "Special treatment" to women workers but rather provided "equal treatment" to both men and women. These organizations also pinned down the fact that the law was discriminative to men (Wisensal, 2001). They argued that although men and women are equal, men could not become pregnant and therefore they should the law to take course.
After 1984, the Temporally Disability Insurance (TDI) was embraced by a number of states. It explained pregnancy as a form of temporal disability and employers were to offer paid leaves to new moms. Because the TDI was seen as a special treatment to women, it was therefore not considered to be the best way to go for the rights of women as it did not portray equity between both sexes. In 1993, bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Although this was not an addition to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it had great relevance to the Act. It had the provisions for both men and women in matters concerning family and medical issues. These included maternal and paternal leave and other leaves concerning the family setup. Companies hence had to guarantee six up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave in the case of child birth or adoption. This was to be applied to both men and women. The maternity and paternity leaves could be taken at different times so as to prolong the leave period. This ensured that the adopted or born child could have longer time of care with either of the parents who is taking leave at a time. This was to enhance equal responsibilities between men and women in the bringing up the family setup. Companies with more than fifty employees were to be affected by this law (Wisensal, 2001). Hence the FMLA was seen as a stronghold on which women under PDA could rely on in terms of providing abundant care to their new borns or adopted kids.
Although the Act seems not to have changed with time, other similar legislations are in hand at supporting the law. E.g. the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) has been behind the Act. It has helped file and even appeal for cases pertaining to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The commission, which is an independent federal establishment, takes a key role in investigations arising from the work place. This promotes equality regardless of sexual orientation, color, nationality, age, and race. It adjudicates for cases of discrimination in the above lines and fights for the victims’ rights. The commission however faces problems due to the negligence of the court to offer constitutional consideration of pregnant women (Boumil, Hicks & Friedman, 1992).
However, there is a major weakness of the Act as it is considered not to be part of the corporate ethics. This is because there is no understanding of pregnancy as a protected inability in the work place. Lack of women in the top work place hierarchy; pregnant or not also weakens the enactment of the law rendering it less radical. The natural fact that only women are disadvantaged to be sole providers of care to the child makes the Act to be insensitive and ineffective to some extent i.e. nobody else apart from women has the biggest responsibility to do childcare.
However, in June 2008, the US Supreme Court made a slight consideration concerning the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. It considered listening to cases that affected women who took leave before the law was enacted. This could possibly mean that women who took leave then would be compensated due to loss of employment, low retirement benefits due to unpaid leave and several other factors. This if done will be a historical mark to changes made to the Act (" Pregnancy Discrimination Act", 2008).
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