If you’re working while you’re pregnant, you are protected under certain laws. Pregnancy will require time off, both for regular prenatal appointments and for when you actually have the baby. It’s important to understand what your rights are as an employee so that your employer treats you fairly. It is unlawful for you to face any discrimination due to your pregnancy.
When you’re pregnant, you can cost your employer more money, as the company will have to find a temporary replacement while you have your baby. You may also be unable to perform certain tasks, such as lifting heavy objects and you may have to miss several hours of work for your doctor’s appointments. This makes you unattractive as an employee and, without laws in place, an employer may choose not to hire you or pass you over for promotion. Employment laws for pregnant women ensure that you can come back to your job after you have your baby.
The primary law relating to pregnancy is in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which modifies Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This states that discrimination based on pregnancy falls under sex discrimination, which is not allowed in companies. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is also important. It states that if you’ve worked for a company more than a year, you are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for the birth of your child.
Your employer cannot fire you simply because you are pregnant, nor can he force you to take medical leave. He must also make accommodations for your condition, if necessary, such as allowing more frequent bathroom breaks. If your employer offers a health insurance plan, that plan must include coverage for pregnancy. If you decide to take extended time off under FMLA, your employer must hold your position for 12 weeks, using a temporary worker during that time. If you are applying for jobs, an employer is not allowed to ask you whether you are pregnant and you are not required to disclose this information.
When You’re Not Covered
You are required to do your job as agreed upon when you were initially hired. Your employer can still fire you if you are not satisfactorily performing your job duties. He also does not have to hold your position open after the 12-week leave period is up.
Recourse for Discrimination
If you feel that your employer discriminated against you based on your pregnancy, you can talk to a lawyer about resolving the issue, usually through re-hiring or financial settlement. Note that you may not have a case if the employer has documented evidence that you neglected your job duties.