Being pregnant with a child should be a joyous occasion. Unfortunately, too many women face discrimination in the workplace due to their pregnancy. This discrimination can take the form of firing a pregnant employee, cutting a pregnant employee’s hours, reassigning a pregnant worker’s job duties to other employees, or reassigning a pregnant worker to a less desirable position. Discrimination may also include denying promotions or career opportunities to a worker due to their pregnancy or requiring a pregnant worker to take leave during their pregnancy.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act Protections
Many employers are subject to the requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, a part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace. The PDA clarified that discrimination based on an employee’s pregnancy is considered a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII. The PDA, therefore, makes it illegal for an employer to:
- Deny employment to a pregnant applicant
- Fire or demote a pregnant employee
- Deny the same or similar work to a pregnant employee when they return from pregnancy leave
- Treat a pregnant worker differently from other employees
It is also considered illegal under federal law for an employer to force you to perform work that, due to your pregnancy, would pose a safety risk for yourself, your baby, or others in the workplace. On the other hand, your employer also cannot lawfully remove you from your job, remove or reassign your job duties, or place you on leave simply because your employer believes that your position or job duties might pose a risk to you or your baby.
Accommodations for Pregnant Workers
If you require certain accommodations to continue working in your job due to your pregnancy, under federal law, your employer must offer you reasonable accommodations if it offers other temporarily disabled workers accommodations, or if your pregnancy causes a condition that would qualify as a “disability” under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
Although an employer does not have to provide the exact accommodations requested by an employee, the employer must engage in a dialogue with an employee to try to identify mutually acceptable accommodations. Reasonable accommodations for a pregnant employee may include altered working schedules, allowing the pregnant worker to sit or stand as necessary, restrictions on lifting or other physical job tasks, or work-from-home arrangements.
Federal law also requires employers to provide pregnant and breastfeeding employees with lactation facilities in the workplace. These facilities may not be located in a bathroom and must offer visual privacy and freedom from any intrusion. Therefore, an employer cannot require a lactating employee to go home or take a half-day from work to express milk.
Family Medical Leave Act Options
Finally, pregnant workers employed by businesses subject to the federal Family Medical Leave Act may be entitled to up to six months of unpaid leave for medical treatment related to their pregnancy and following the birth of their child. Employers cannot require that an employee take consecutive leave. If a worker is eligible to take FMLA leave, they may take broken-up leave periods.
Contact an Experienced Employment Attorney
If you believe your rights at work may have been violated by your employer due to your pregnancy, contact the Georgia federal discrimination attorneys of the Vaughn Law Firm or give us a call at 877-615-9495 or contact us online today for a free, confidential consultation. Don’t wait to speak to a knowledgeable employment attorney about your options for asserting your rights and getting the justice you deserve.