About 70% of women in the U.S. will become pregnant at some point in their lives; many will work for some period during their pregnancy. Luckily, pregnant women have rights in the workplace. Pregnancy is a protected condition the same as a person’s age, race, gender, or disability.
The Pregnancy Discrimination in Employment Act pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. An employer must treat any pregnant employee with a pregnancy related disability the same way they would treat a non-pregnant employee with a temporary disability. This means that pregnant employees must be given lighter work duty if required by their pregnancy if other temporarily disabled individuals are given light duty. An employer can’t force a pregnant employee to stop working or to take time off if they do not wish to do so; provided she can still do the job. If a pregnant woman has the ability to continue to work during her pregnancy she has the right to do so. A pregnant woman applying for a job cannot be passed over for a job simply because she is pregnant.
An important caveat to these rights is that they only apply to employers with more than 15 employees. Alabama does not have any laws specifically protecting pregnant workers, and the federal law states that employers with less than 15 employees are not bound by its regulations. If you’re pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, it’s important to keep in the 15 employee rule in mind if you plan to continue working.
If, despite these laws, an employer treats you negatively because of your pregnancy by forcing you to take time off, or by refusing to hire you, or by any number of similar actions, you may have reason to sue. Give Mastando & Artrip a call at 256-532-2222. We have years of experience dealing with discrimination in the workplace and we’re always happy to take your call.