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What rights do you have as a pregnant woman in the workplace?

Holding on to a job while pregnant can prove hard for some women, and this may prove especially true for those grappling with severe morning sickness or related issues that can make day-to-day life immensely difficult. Being pregnant in the workplace can prove even more troubling, however, if you work for an employer that does not respect your condition or the laws that govern how employers must treat pregnant women.

If, however, you work for an employer that maintains a workforce of 15 or more people, certain established guidelines govern how he or she must treat or accommodate you with regard for your pregnancy-related condition. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act dictates that your employer must make certain accommodations for you as a result of your pregnancy, and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (as it relates to pregnancy-related conditions) does the same.

Understanding the PDA

Essentially, the PDA dictates that employers with at least 15 or more workers must treat workers who are pregnant, or experiencing a pregnancy-related medical condition, in the same manner they would other workers who have similarly debilitating disabilities. So, what may that mean?

While you are pregnant, your employer may not fire, demote or otherwise take action against you for a reason relating to your condition, even if your boss believes he or she is acting in your best interests in doing so. Your employer also may not discriminate against you on account of your condition, nor can he or she make changes to your leave or insurance policies after learning of your condition.

Understanding the ADA

The ADA, meanwhile, asserts that your employer cannot discriminate against you because you have a disability related to your pregnancy, even if your disability is temporary in nature. The ADA also requires that your employer make reasonable accommodations to make your job easier for you, if necessary, which may include modifying your workload or purchasing special equipment.

While this information should give you a general understanding of the tenets of the PDA and ADA, please note that this is not an exhaustive summary of how these acts cover you as a pregnant woman in the workplace.

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