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Discrimination & Harassment

Pregnancy Discrimination

The law protects employees from being treated unfairly because of pregnancy or childbirth.

If you experienced pregnancy-related discrimination, or to discuss your rights related to pregnancy or childbirth, contact our employment lawyers.

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Pregnancy Discrimination Details

Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Many states also have their own laws protecting employees from pregnancy discrimination.

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 temporarily disabled employees, including time off and reasonable help with performing their job duties.

Employers may make employment decisions based on pregnancy if it is reasonably necessary to normal business operations. For example, a theater may prohibit pregnant stage hands from doing heavy lifting that exceeds the maximum weight allowed by their doctors. But employers may not use its business practices as a mere pretext to mask illegal pregnancy discrimination.

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 to work.

Examples of Potential Pregnancy Discrimination

The following are examples of employer conduct that may constitute illegal pregnancy discrimination:

  • Your boss transfers, demotes, harasses, or fires you because he or she finds out you are pregnant, or because you are about to take maternity leave (or just returned 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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