With an increasing number of women entering the workforce, pregnancy discrimination has become a pervasive problem. This paper, which focuses on the United States (US), thus considers the underlying reasons and impacts of this biasness from the perspectives of both employee and employer. It then follows with a study on the legal protections in place to prevent such behaviour. And lastly, it will analyse various ethical issues involved in this unequal treatment of pregnant employees in the workplace using ethical frameworks such as Utilitarianism theory, Kantian Ethics and John Rawls’ Justice as Fairness. These ethical frameworks will help highlight …show more content…
With the economic downturn, this thus results in the avoidance of pregnant employees, or simply women for some.
Lastly, unlike in Europe where the cost of maternity leave is jointly financed by both the employee, employer and government subsidies through a social insurance plan, in the US the burden of this cost is carried primarily by the employer. This creates more resistance in the hiring of pregnant employees in the US, and consequently the increasing number of cases of pregnancy discrimination.
V. The Legal Perspective
With the increasing number of cases of pregnancy discrimination in the US, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) was amended in 1978 to add in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The PDA was enacted to ban any sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition. It states that pregnant women should not be treated any differently from their employees of the same qualifications and abilities.
One famous example was the Tylo v. Superior Court (Spelling Entertainment Group, Inc.) (1997) case where Actress Hunter Tylo was fired by Spelling Entertainment Inc. because she was pregnant. The defendants argued that they had the rights to terminate the contract on grounds that with the pregnancy will affect her performance. The court, however ruled in favour of Tylo and she was awarded $4,000,000 in emotional damages and $894,600 for economic loss on the basis that she that her was still able to perform