Am I protected from pregnancy discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Pregnancy Discrimination & Work Situations

The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.

Pregnancy Discrimination & Temporary Disability

If a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer or other covered entity must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, the employer may have to provide modified tasks, alternative assignments, disability leave or unpaid leave.

Private employers that have 15 or more employees who worked for the employer for at least twenty calendar weeks (in this year or last) are subject to this law.

Pregnancy Discrimination & Harassment

It is unlawful to harass a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Pregnancy & Workplace Laws

Pregnant employees may have additional rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Pregnancy, Maternity & Parental Leave

Under Federal law, if an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job due to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, if the employer allows temporarily disabled employees to modify tasks, perform alternative assignments or take disability leave or leave without pay, the employer also must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled due to pregnancy to do the same.

If an employer provides personal leave for other reasons, e.g., to take courses or other training, then the employer must grant personal leave for care of a new child.

An employer may not single out pregnancy-related conditions for special procedures to determine an employee's ability to work. However, if an employer requires its employees to submit a doctor's statement concerning their ability to work before granting leave or paying sick benefits, the employer may require employees affected by pregnancy-related conditions to submit such statements.

Further, under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, a new parent (including foster and adoptive parents) may be eligible for 12 weeks of leave (unpaid or paid if the employee has earned or accrued it) that may be used for care of the new child. To be eligible, the employee must have worked for the employer for 12 months prior to taking the leave and the employer must have a specified number of employees.

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