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Your Rights as a Pregnant Woman in the Workplace

Your Rights as a Pregnant Woman in the Workplace

Posted by Kathy Harrington-Sullivan | Aug 02, 2016 | 0 Comments

Pregnancy can be a happy event in a woman's life, but it can also be a source of stress, worry, and fear about continued employment. Employers may react to pregnant employees with open hostility or may pressure pregnant employees to forego leave or quit the job rather than make accommodations that would allow the employee to continue working.

If you are pregnant and apprehensive about telling your employer, we've listed a few points below that may help prepare you for that conversation.

You Cannot be Fired for Being Pregnant

It is illegal for an employer to fire you because you are pregnant. If an employer terminates you close to the time you announce your pregnancy, you should speak with an attorney to help you determine if the termination was illegal. Additionally, if you are fully able to do your job, an employer should not impose a disability on you just because you are pregnant. If your employer voices safety concerns about your pregnancy when safety is not an issue you have raised with your employer, you should speak with an attorney.

Job Seeking While Pregnant

Some employers may be wary of hiring pregnant women because they anticipate the time off that may be needed for maternity leave or other special considerations. If a prospective employer tells you they cannot hire you for this reason, they may be violating pregnancy discrimination laws. Likewise, if an employer passes you over because you are pregnant or may become pregnant in the future, you should speak with an attorney.

Keeping Your Position

If you are able to perform the essential functions of your job, your employee cannot force you to take time off just because you are pregnant. Your pregnancy is also not a legal basis for demoting you, cutting your pay, cutting your hours, laying you off, or denying you a promotion.

Medical Considerations

An uncomplicated pregnancy is not considered a disability, but if you have a pregnancy-induced medical condition or complication, you may be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Your employer must handle a disability that results from pregnancy just as they would handle a disability for a non-pregnant employee. If your doctor orders light duty because of your condition, for example, your employer should try to find a solution that would allow you to continue doing meaningful work.

Maternity Leave

If you have been with your employer for more than a year, have worked more than 1250 hours in the previous year, and your employer has more than 50 employees within a 75 mile radius, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may apply to your maternity leave. FMLA allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a serious medical condition, which includes pregnancy and delivery (with or without complications). If you do not qualify for FMLA, check to see if your employment contract guarantees you maternity leave or if your employer has a personal leave policy for maternity.

Considering an Abortion?

Deciding to terminate your pregnancy is your personal decision. If an employer takes any employment action against you or denies you employment for having or considering an abortion, you should talk with an attorney.

Have you been discriminated against at work because of your pregnancy or decisions related to your pregnancy? For a complimentary consultation, contact Barrett and Farahany today at (404) 238-7299.

About the Author

Kathy Harrington-Sullivan

Kathy Harrington Sullivan is a Partner at Barrett & Farahany and manages the firm's case evaluation team. Because knowledge truly is power, Kathy and the Atlanta employment attorneys on her team regularly consult with and empower potentia...

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