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Understanding your rights as a pregnant woman in the workplace

If you are an employed, expectant mother and the company you work for employs 15 or more people, you have certain rights with regard to your pregnancy status when it comes to your work environment. More specifically, you have a right to enjoy a work environment free from pregnancy-related harassment or discrimination, and you also have the right to make certain moves on account of your pregnancy without having to fear retaliation from your employer or co-workers.

While these rights protect you if you are currently pregnant, they can also do so if you were recently pregnant, if you are trying to become pregnant, have a pregnancy-related medical condition or recently had, or are considering having, an abortion.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Essentially, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act dictates that your employer must treat your pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition in the same manner he or she would any other type of employee disability, even if he or she believes doing so may be bad for your health. More specifically, this means your employer must make the same accommodations for you that he or she does other disabled workers with regard to leave, insurance benefits, breaks, hiring, firing and so on.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act asserts that your employer may not discriminate you in any fashion if you are suffering from a pregnancy-related impairment the Act deems a disability. What types of conditions might this include? Preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and sciatica are a few examples. The ADA also dictates that your employer has a duty to make reasonable accommodations for you on account of your pregnancy-related disability. For example, if you typically perform heavy lifting, it would be a reasonable request to ask that you forgo such duties until the end of your pregnancy or until you are no longer impaired.

If you are experiencing harassing or discriminatory behavior at work and you believe it is because of your pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition, you may want to consider filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

 

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