Being pregnant is a physically and emotionally demanding experience for any woman. And despite the morning sickness, aching muscles and exhaustion, many women still work. This is no easy task.
Unfortunately, there are employers who make things even harder for pregnant women by violating their rights and making them feel like their livelihood could be in danger because they are having a child. With this in mind, we urge pregnant women — and women who might become pregnant — to understand some basic protections in place for expecting employees.
- Refusing to hire or firing someone for being pregnant is discriminatory. As this case highlights, employers are prohibited from taking negative action against a woman for being pregnant. In that case, a woman was offered a position from a company that then rescinded the offer after learning she was pregnant. The company wound up paying the woman $100,000 in damages.
- You have a right to request accommodations; if they are reasonable and allow you to do your job more safely, an employer is generally required to provide them. This might include sitting in a chair instead of standing or taking more frequent breaks.
- In accordance with federal law, eligible employees can take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act for pregnancy-related conditions. An employer cannot give away your job or take away benefits while you are on leave.
- Harassment related to your pregnancy is unlawful. Federal laws prohibit any type of harassing, threatening or offensive behaviors related to a person’s pregnancy.
If you feel your rights have been violated as a pregnant employee, it is critical that you take action to protect yourself. By talking to an attorney about your case, you can learn about your legal options and the possible remedies that may be available.