Pregnant and working? Know your legal rights

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Employee Rights

Many pregnant employees do not understand their rights and protections provided by law. As a result, they endure discrimination or unfair treatment at the workplace without realizing they have legal recourse.

Pregnancy discrimination at work is more common than you think, going by the findings of a recent survey. 1 in 5 mothers say they have experienced pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Understanding your rights can help ensure a smooth and fair working experience during this important time in your life.

Pregnancy discrimination is unlawful

Employers cannot discriminate against employees based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. It is unlawful at both the state and federal levels. As such, your employer cannot legally fire or demote you simply because you are pregnant.

You are entitled to reasonable accommodation

If you have a pregnancy-related medical condition that prevents you from doing your job, your employer is legally obligated to provide you with reasonable accommodation. These are changes or adjustments at the workplace that enable you to perform your essential job duties.

For instance, your employer may modify your work duties, transfer you to less strenuous positions or allow you more frequent breaks. Your employer is obligated to accommodate your situation unless doing so would cause them undue hardship.

You have the right to take a leave

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you may be eligible to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for pregnancy, childbirth and bonding with your new child. You also have the right to return to your job or a similar position with the same pay, benefits and working conditions after taking leave for pregnancy-related reasons.

Pregnancy discrimination should not derail your career or make life difficult at your job. Your focus should be on your health and well-being, not worrying about dealing with a hostile work environment. Seeking qualified guidance can help you respond appropriately and assert your legal rights.

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