Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination
The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. Women affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.
If you are pregnant, have been pregnant, or may become pregnant, and if your employer has 15 or more employees, you are protected against pregnancy-based discrimination and harassment at work under federal law. You may also have a legal right to work adjustments that will allow you to do your job without jeopardizing your health. Employers and employees should consult with an experienced employment law attorney regarding both of their rights and obligations under the PDA law.
Further, under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor, 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. Employers and employees should consult with an experienced employment law attorney regarding both of their rights and obligations under the FMLA.
Another federal law that applies to post-birth mothers is the Patient and Affordable Care Act which amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers and employees should consult with an experienced employment law attorney regarding both of their rights and obligations under this federal law.
Q: If an employer knows that an employee is pregnant or may become pregnant, could the employee get fired?
A: No. Under the PDA, employers are not allowed to discriminate against you based on the fact that:
you are pregnant;
you were pregnant;
you could become pregnant, or intend to become pregnant;
you have a medical condition that is related to pregnancy; or
you had an abortion, or are considering having an abortion.
In general, this means that you cannot be fired, rejected for a job or promotion, given lesser assignments, or forced to take leave for any of these reasons. An employer does not have to keep you in a job that you are unable to do or in which you would pose a significant safety risk for others in the workplace. However, your employer cannot remove you from your job or place you on leave because it believes that work would pose a risk to you or your pregnancy.
Q: What if I am being harassed because of pregnancy or a pregnancy-related medical condition?
Harassment based on pregnancy or a pregnancy-related medical condition is not allowed under the PDA and ADA. You should tell your employer about any harassment if you want the employer to stop the problem. Follow your employer's reporting procedures if there are any. If you report the harassment, your employer is legally required to take action to prevent it from occurring in the future.
Q: What can an employee do if they are having difficulty doing their job because of pregnancy or a medical condition related to their pregnancy?
A: Employees should consult with an experienced employment law attorney if they are having difficulty doing their job because of pregnancy or a medical condition related to their pregnancy.
Q: What if there's no way that the employee can do their regular job, even with an accommodation?
A: Employees should consult with an experienced employment law attorney if they are unable to perform their regular job duties even with an accommodation.
Q: What if the employee cannot work at all because of their pregnancy?
A: If the employee cannot work at all and they have no paid leave, the employee still may be entitled to unpaid leave as an accommodation. The employee may also qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which is enforced by the United States Department of Labor.
Q: What should an employee do if they need an accommodation, light duty, or leave because of their pregnancy?
A: Employees should consult with an experienced employment law attorney if they need an accommodation becuase of their pregnancy.
Q: What should I do if I think that my rights have been violated?
A: Employees should consult with an experienced employment law attorney if they believe their rights have been violated.
If you have any further questions or need additional information about pregnancy or maternity discrimination, please contact me for a FREE confidential consultation at (916) 333-4653 or Stephen_Fiegel_Esq@comcast.net.
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