Pregnancy discrimination remains widespread and shows up in many different ways:
- A refusal to hire or promote you while you’re pregnant.
- Harassing you about maternity or pregnancy-related medical visits or leave.
- Cutting your hours, or taking you off the schedule entirely, while you’re pregnant or after you’ve returned.
- Refusing to give you desirable or higher-paying assignments because of the false belief the work might put your pregnancy at risk.
- Demanding you submit to tests or otherwise prove you can do a task while pregnant.
- Failing to accommodate your pregnancy-related inability to perform some tasks, if your employer accommodates other temporarily-disabled employees.
- Refusing to hire or promote you because of your announced plans to become pregnant.
Pregnancy discrimination is treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.
The Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.
Pregnancy Discrimination & Temporary Disability
If you are temporarily unable to perform your job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, your employer or other covered entity must treat you in the same way as it treats any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, your employer may have to provide light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave to you during your pregnancy if it does so for other temporarily disabled employees.
Additionally, impairments resulting from pregnancy (for example, gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, a condition characterized by pregnancy-induced hypertension and protein in the urine) may be protected as “disabilities” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If so your employer may have to provide a reasonable accommodation (such as leave or modifications that enable an employee to perform her job) for a disability related to pregnancy. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 makes it much easier to show that a medical condition is a covered disability.
Pregnancy Discrimination & Harassment
It is unlawful for your employer and bosses to harass you because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as your being fired or demoted). The harasser can be your supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or even someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
Pregnancy, Maternity & Parental Leave
Under the PDA, an employer that allows temporarily disabled employees to take disability leave or leave without pay, must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled due to pregnancy to do the same.
This means your employer may not single out your pregnancy-related conditions for special procedures to determine your ability to work. However, if your workplace requires non-pregnant employees to submit a doctor’s statement concerning their ability to work before granting leave or paying sick benefits, it may require you, if you are affected by pregnancy-related conditions, to submit such statements.
Further, under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, you may – as a new parent (including foster and adoptive parents) – be eligible for 12 weeks of leave (unpaid or paid if the employee has earned or accrued it) that may be used for care of the new child. To be eligible, you must have worked for your employer for 12 months prior to taking the leave and the employer must have a specified number of employees.
Pregnancy & Workplace Laws
Pregnant employees may have additional rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as well as under whistleblower laws and even more general laws prohibiting discrimination on the job.
Call Now For Your Free Confidential Consultation with Employee Rights Lawyer Jim Garrity
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