Congratulations! If you are adding a new member to your family, your thoughts should be on cribs, car seats and baby showers. If you are a working mother, you may also have concerns about job stability while you are pregnant, during your maternity leave and even after you come back to work.
Having a child changes every aspect of your life, but you are protected from any type of pregnancy discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. While you may know you are protected, you may not be sure where the lines are drawn when it comes to discrimination.
What is pregnancy discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination occurs when you are demoted or fired for being pregnant, not hired because you are pregnant, denied the same job as a non-pregnant employee when you are equally qualified, or treated differently than any other employee who is temporarily disabled.
Pregnancy-related conditions can also be considered temporary disabilities, and include childbirth, bedrest ordered by a doctor, severe morning sickness and recovery after childbirth. Pregnant women should be given the same considerations and exceptions that any other employee with a temporary disability is given.
Parental and maternity leave
If your employer allows a temporarily disabled employee to take a leave of absence for the disability, the same considerations must be given to pregnant employees. An employee’s ability to work cannot be determined by special procedures regarding pregnancy-related conditions.
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, new parents must be eligible for 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave to be used to care for the new addition to their family. This rule also applies to adoptive and foster parents. There are exceptions to this rule that an attorney can help you understand.
If you are discriminated against
Welcoming a new baby into your home should be an exciting experience that you look forward to, not one that you fear will cost you your job. If you are dealing with pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, we encourage you to speak to an attorney immediately.