If you have a case involving discrimination in school, contact one of our attorneys at (203) 221-3100.

Pregnancy Based Discrimination in School

The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education issued a resource to emphasize that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 safeguards students and employees against discrimination related to pregnancy and its associated conditions.

Student Protections

Title IX protects students from harassment due to pregnancy and related conditions by school staff or fellow students. Schools are required to treat pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, and recovery the same as any other temporary disability regarding medical benefits, services, plans, or policies for students (34 C.F.R. § 106.40(b)(4)). It prohibits discrimination against students or their exclusion from educational programs or activities, including classes or extracurriculars, based on pregnancy-related conditions (34 C.F.R. § 106.40(b)(1)).

These policies also mandate schools to provide leave for pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery as long as deemed necessary by a physician. Upon return from leave, students must be reinstated to their previous status (34 C.F.R. § 106.40(b)(5)). Therefore, teachers cannot refuse to accept late work due to pregnancy-related absences, nor can students be penalized in grading systems based on attendance or participation for such absences.

Employee Protections

A school cannot discriminate against or exclude any employee or job applicant based on pregnancy or related conditions, including termination of pregnancy. According to 34 C.F.R. § 106.57(b), schools must treat pregnancy and related conditions as they would any other temporary disability for all employment-related purposes, including medical benefits.

If a school lacks a formal leave policy or if an employee has insufficient leave or accrued time, pregnancy, childbirth, termination of pregnancy, and recovery must justify a reasonable unpaid leave of absence. Afterward, the employee must be reinstated to their previous position or a comparable one without any reduction in compensation, loss of promotional opportunities, or other employment rights. This requirement is outlined in 34 C.F.R. § 106.57(d). Additionally, pregnancy and related conditions must be treated similarly to other temporary disabilities concerning leave commencement, duration, extensions, disability income payments, seniority accrual, and other employment benefits, as specified in 34 C.F.R. § 106.57(c).

Filing Complaints

Students, employees, or job applicants who suspect they have faced discrimination due to pregnancy or related conditions, such as pregnancy termination, have the option to lodge a complaint using their school’s grievance procedures. Under Title IX regulations, all school districts and postsecondary institutions must prominently display contact details for their Title IX Coordinator on their website, as well as in student and employee handbooks and catalogs. The Title IX Coordinator oversees all complaints related to Title IX, including those concerning pregnancy and related conditions (34 C.F.R. § 106.8(b)(2)).

Alternatively, individuals including students, parents, guardians, employees, and community members who witness or experience discrimination based on sex (including pregnancy and related conditions), race, color, national origin, disability, or age in educational programs or activities, can file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Complaints to OCR generally need to be submitted within 180 days of the incident of discrimination.

Maya Murphy P.C. has proudly been included in the 2024 Edition of Best Law Firms®, ranked among the top firms in the nation. In addition, Managing Partner Joseph C. Maya has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 for his work in Employment Law and Education Law in Connecticut. Recognition in Best Lawyers® is awarded to firms and attorneys who demonstrate excellence in the industry and is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor.

Our firm in Westport, Connecticut serves clients with legal assistance all over the state, including the towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bethel, Branford, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Darien, Derby, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middlebury, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, Newton, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Oxford, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Seymour, Shelton, Sherman, Southbury, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, Weston, Westport, Wilton, and Woodbridge. In addition to assisting clients in Connecticut, our firm handles education law matters in New York as well.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a legal matter, please contact Joseph C. Maya and the other experienced attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or to schedule a free initial consultation today.