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Pregnancy and Sex Discrimination

When Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, it amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and made it unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

There is currently limited case law on whether a male can bring a claim of employment discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act based on his partner’s pregnancy.

Recently, a Mississippi man committed suicide after being fired for accompanying his high-risk pregnancy wife to a pregnancy-related appointment.  His estate filed a complaint against his employer, alleging that he was fired because of his sex and his wife’s pregnancy.  

A 2007 case held that in order for a male to properly bring an employment discrimination claim based on pregnancy, he must allege that he was discriminated against because of his sex.  The estate argued that he was “treated less favorably than male employees whose wives were not pregnant.”

However, the court found that he must allege that he was fired because of his partner’s pregnancy and that a female would not have been fired because of her partner’s pregnancy.