If you feel that your pregnancy has cost you your job or a position within your
company, your employer may have broken the law. The law provides several
protections for women who become pregnant while they are working.
Federal law makes it illegal for an employer (with
more than 15 employees) to discriminate against a woman on the basis of
pregnancy. Under Federal law, this protection for women in the workplace arises
from Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, as amended. These laws make it is unlawful for an employer
to discriminate against an employee in the workplace on the basis of sex.
Furthermore, the Act, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, defines on
the "basis of sex" to include "on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or
related medical conditions." Finally, the Act states that "women affected by
pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same
for all employment-related purposes . . . as other persons not so affected but
similar in their ability or inability to work. . . ."
In addition to Title VII,
the Family Medical
Leave Act of 1993 ("FMLA") provides that eligible employees may take up to
12 weeks of unpaid leave each year "for the birth of a son or daughter of the
employee and in order to care for such son or daughter." Unfortunately, the FMLA
does not cover all employees. Rather, it only covers employees that
have worked for an employer for 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours
of service for that employer. Moreover, the FMLA also only applies to
employees who work for an employer that employs 50 or more employees within a 75
mile radius of the employee's worksite. The FMLA also makes it illegal for an employer "to
interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise"
FMLA rights. For example, it is illegal for an employer to terminate an eligible employee for
taking FMLA leave.
Lastly, in some instances, the
Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA), may also provide certain protections for pregnant employees. While the law in this area
is still being developed and is uncertain, courts have found that the ADA may provide protection, under
some circumstances, for women who experience complications from pregnancy. Generally, the ADA requires employers to reasonably accommodate the known disabilities of otherwise
qualified employees unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation
would impose an undue hardship on the employer. An employee is qualified for
protection under the ADA if she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or
more major life activities, is regarded as having such an impairment, or has a
record of such an impairment. Where a complication from pregnancy may be found to
meet one of these standards, an employee may have rights under the ADA.
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal
advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual
situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and
electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Please do not send any confidential or time-sensitive information to us until such time as an
attorney-client relationship has been established.