Overview of Pregnancy Discrimination Law:

Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. The law prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Under the law, employers must treat pregnant employees the same as employees with temporary disabilities, as long as pregnancy does not interfere with the performance of the employees’ major job functions. Employers must also provide pregnant employees with the same benefits that they provide to temporarily disabled employees, including time off and reasonable help with performing their duties while on the job.

However, employers may make employment decisions based on pregnancy if it is reasonably necessary to normal business operations. For example, a manufacturing plant may prohibit pregnant workers from doing heavy lifting that exceeds the maximum weight allowed by their doctors.

Pregnant employees also have a right to unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for newborn children and a right to have the same or a similar job when they return.

Potential Forms of Pregnancy Discrimination:

  • Your boss transfers, demotes, harasses, or fires you after he or she finds out you are pregnant or after you return from maternity leave.
  • You are pregnant, and your employer denies you the same health insurance coverage and other benefits that are available to employees who are not pregnant.
  • Your employer continues to make you do tasks while you are pregnant that your co-workers with temporary disabilities, such as back injuries, do not have to do.
  • You have to take a sick day because of pregnancy-related problems, and your employer refuses to let you return to work until after the birth of your child.
  • Alternatively, your employer prevents you from returning to work for a fixed time period after childbirth.
  • At a job interview, a potential employer asks you if you are pregnant or whether you plan to have children.

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