Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is against the law. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) protects applicants and employees from pregnancy discrimination. This includes medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits discrimination in any part of employment. This includes hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions and benefits like leave and health insurance.
Sometimes, pregnancy or childbirth will result in a temporary medical condition for the employee. The employer must treat that employee the same way it treats other employees with temporary disabilities. This might include work alternatives, duty changes or leave arrangements.
It is generally acceptable for employers to ask pregnant employees to provide a doctor’s note regarding the employee’s ability to work before granting leave.
An employee with a pregnancy or childbirth related condition may also be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that requires the employer to provide a reasonable accommodation. Examples of these conditions include gestational diabetes and hypertension.
Harassment of pregnant women is also against the law. It includes behavior that creates a hostile work environment or causes an adverse employment decision, like firing or demotion.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also allows new parents to take 12 weeks of leave to care for the child if he or she has worked for the employer for 12 months prior to taking leave. The availability of FMLA may depend on how many employees work for the employer.
If an employee has been discriminated against or harassed in the workplace, an experienced attorney can help.