What to expect from your employer when you’re expecting

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against women on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Although the PDA has been in effect since 1978, discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace continues to be an issue. In fact, in fiscal year 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received over 2700 charges of discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and collected more than $22 million dollars in monetary settlements.

What should you expect from your employer when you’re pregnant?

There are a number of rights a pregnant woman has with respect to her employment, all of which forbid discrimination based on pregnancy 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. Among other things:

  • An employer cannot fire or discriminate against a pregnant employee.
  • An employer cannot harass a pregnant employee or create a hostile work environment because of the employee’s pregnancy.
  • An employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant applicant.
  • An employer cannot deny a pregnant woman a promotion or a raise because of the pregnancy.
  • An employer must provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees similar to those accommodations the employer offers to employees with other medical impairments. For example, if an employer allows light duty for sick/injured employees, it must allow the same for pregnant employees who require it.
  • Under the Affordable Care Act, a new mother must have the opportunity to pump breast milk at work in a safe and private place other than a bathroom and must be given reasonable breaks to do so.
  • An employer that allows temporarily disabled employees to take disability leave or leave without pay must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled due to pregnancy to do the same.
  • An employer cannot force a pregnant employee to stop working and take pregnancy leave if she is still able to perform her job.
  • Pregnancy-related benefits cannot be limited to married women.
  • Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a new mother may be eligible for 12 weeks of leave to 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.

Prohibition Against Retaliation

Retaliation is the most common form of discrimination. It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee for opposing discriminatory employment practices or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII. For example, an employer cannot fire an employee for complaining of pregnancy discrimination or for filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. Similarly, an employer cannot retaliate against a pregnant employee for asking for an accommodation.

If your employer has discriminated against you in any way because of your pregnancy, you should consult with a Dallas Employment Attorney to discuss your rights.

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