Workplace Inclusion

Sex and Pregnancy

You have the responsibility to ensure equal opportunity for workers.

You must treat job applicants as well as current employees equally, regardless of their sex, pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. In general, this means you can’t:

  • fire, reject for a job or promotion,
  • give lesser assignments to,
  • force to take leave, or
  • otherwise negatively alter the terms and conditions of employment for an individual because of their sex, or
    • medical information related to their sex,
    • current or past pregnancy, intention to become pregnant or possibility of becoming pregnant, or
    • current or past medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, which includes having or seeking an abortion.


This means you can’t discriminate against workers because of their sex or because of stereotypes about their sex. Sex stereotyping is harmful, for example, by perpetuating the mistaken view that members of one sex are inherently better qualified or suited for certain kinds of jobs, or that only workers of one sex may need family leave or flexible work arrangements. Employment discrimination may also occur when your seemingly fair policies or procedures have a significant negative impact on people because of their sex without a strong enough business justification.


Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. Illegal pregnancy discrimination may occur when you have policies or practices that exclude women from particular jobs because they are or could become pregnant. It is also unlawful to harass a worker because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a pregnancy-related physical or mental disability.


A new federal law, effective June 27, 2023, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an “undue hardship.” Also, another Federal law may allow your employee up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a new child, if they are eligible and you’re covered as an employer.


Employment discrimination may also occur when an employer’s seemingly fair policies or practices have a significant negative impact on people of a certain sex without demonstrating the policies or practices are job-related and consistent with business necessity. And discrimination can occur when an employee and the person discriminating against the employee share a protected characteristic like sex.

We’re here to help.

We are committed to helping you understand your responsibilities as an employer. Many questions about your responsibilities may be answered by using the following elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors:

For additional assistance, please contact:

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP): 1-800-397-6251 or the OFCCP Help Desk

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): 1-800-669-4000 or

Pregnant businesswoman posing in the office
Need more information?

The elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors are a set of online tools developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under federal employment laws.