If you’re pregnant and working, or if you’re thinking about getting pregnant and working, you need to know that there are specific federal laws in place that can help you in the event your employer discriminates against you. It’s illegal for a company to treat an employee or an employment applicant differently or unfairly because she is pregnant.
Here are some of the key facts behind the various federal laws protecting you from discrimination in employment while you are pregnant:
- Employers may not discriminate on any aspect of your employment. That includes firing, hiring, your rate of pay, the jobs you’re assigned, promotions, training opportunities, fringe benefits (like medical insurance) or any other term or condition related to your employment.
- Temporary disability rules may apply as well. If you’re not able to do your regular job duties because of a pregnancy-related medical condition, your employer has to treat you the same way they would treat any other employee with a temporary disability. That may mean light duty, disability leave, unpaid leave or alternative work assignments.
- Certain pregnancy conditions might be considered disabilities. If you have gestational diabetes, for example, you may qualify for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. That can mean leave or it can mean modifications to your duties.
- It’s against the law to harass you because you’re pregnant. It’s considered harassment when you feel that you are in a hostile work environment, or when it results in a work demotion or even being fired. The person harassing you can be the employer, another employee or even a client or customer of the company.
- Your employer can’t single you out. They can’t single out pregnancy and give pregnant women a different set of rules such as sick time or granting leave. If the employer requires a doctor’s note for a normal sick day or medical leave, however, they can and will likely ask the same for pregnancy.
Pregnancy should be a happy time, and one in which you’re devoted to caring for you and your growing baby. You shouldn’t have to worry about being discriminated against at your place of employment, and there are laws to keep it from happening.