Law Offices of Lauren Abrams blog

Pregnancy discrimination and reasonable accommodation

People in California who are pregnant may not be aware of their workplace rights and what constitutes discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes pregnancy discrimination illegal even though in South Dakota, lawmakers voted that employers did not have to make certain accommodations for pregnant employees. However, an employer is not supposed to fire, penalize or deny a job or promotion to a woman because she is pregnant.

Employers are also supposed to provide reasonable accommodation. This means that an employee might perform a different function for a time if her normal position might cause problems for her pregnancy. Furthermore, a worker cannot be harassed based on her pregnancy. Harassment that takes place over email provides proof of its occurrence, but if the offense is verbal and not so easily verifiable, documenting any incidents in writing may help build a record. Victims can also ask coworkers who witnessed the harassment if they will corroborate their account.

An employee is not required to notify her boss about her pregnancy. Furthermore, she must be allowed to work until the baby is born. Even if her employer does not offer maternity benefits, a pregnant employee may take unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act.

People who believe they are facing pregnancy or any other type of discrimination or harassment at work might want to speak to an attorney even if they want to resolve the situation without going to court. A lawyer may be able to explain to someone whether he or she is part of a protected class and advise him or her how to approach the conversation with a supervisor or human resources. If an individual is unable to get the problem solved by going through the proper channels at work, he or she might speak to an attorney about other options like notifying the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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