Can You Get Fired For Being Pregnant?

Pregnancy is an exciting and often overwhelming experience, but fretting about job security should not be part of it.  You may be wondering, “Can you get fired for being pregnant?” As a pregnant woman, you have certain rights that protect against discrimination or unfair termination due to your condition. It is important to understand what these rights are and how to assert them if needed. In this blog post, we will dive into the specific job protections for pregnant women and help ensure that you confidently navigate your workplace.  We will also talk about the process of seeking legal recourse on the charge of discrimination.

Federal Law

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The first layer of protection from the federal government for pregnant women comes from the Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). This law, passed in 1978, makes it illegal to discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or any related medical condition. This means that your employer must treat you the same as other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

If you choose to breastfeed your baby, the PDA also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations related to breastfeeding. This could include providing designated areas for mothers to express breast milk or storing expressed milk in a refrigerator. It can also include providing flexible break times.

This Act guarantees your right to take leave for pregnancy-related issues, such as pregnancy complications, bed rest or doctor’s appointments. It also prohibits employers from denying you a job or making an employment decision based solely on your current or planned pregnancy. In addition, employers cannot force you to take leave or terminate you because of your pregnancy.

The Family Medical Leave Act

In addition to the PDA, pregnant employees also have rights under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law allows for up to 12 weeks of leave. The leave is unpaid and is for a wide range of medical conditions, including pregnancy-related conditions and childbirth. Employers with 50 or more employees must abide by this law and provide this leave option for qualified employees.  If you work for a small employer under 50 employees, you may not have this particular leave available.

Your rights under the FMLA include returning to your same job after taking leave, keeping your health insurance during your absence, and having any accrued vacation time applied to the length of your leave. You can also rest assured knowing that you cannot be terminated due to taking FMLA-approved time off for pregnancy. 

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Pregnancy Disability Leave Law

The Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL) is another form of federal protection for pregnant employees. This law applies to employers with five or more employees. The PDLL requires them to provide up to four months of unpaid job-protected leave for pregnancy and related illnesses. This leave must also be granted in addition to any other forms of leave that may be available.  If you work for a small business, you will likely fall under this instead of FMLA.

Under the PDLL, employers cannot deny you any job-related benefits (including health insurance, vacation time or bonuses) that are offered to other employees who are taking paid or unpaid leave for a non-pregnancy related illness. Employers must also make reasonable accommodations to ensure that you can return to your job once the leave is over.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The last and most recent layer of protection for pregnant workers comes from the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). This act, which was passed in 2018, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees that can help them perform their job duties. 

These accommodations could include making changes to your workspace, allowing you more frequent breaks, or adjusting the physical demands of your job to a light duty.  Employers are also prohibited from denying you a job because you require an accommodation due to pregnancy. The employer cannot retaliate against you for requesting one.

State and Local Laws

In addition to federal laws, many states have passed laws that provide additional job protection for female employees who get pregnant. For example, some states mandate that employers grant reasonable accommodations for pregnancy. These can include things like extra bathroom breaks or modified work hours. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the laws in your state. This will hepl ensure that you have the full complement of protections available to you.

California Family Rights Act

California law includes one specifically dedicated to pregnant workers known as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). This act requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for pregnancy and childbirth, as well as related medical conditions. The CFRA is similar to the FMLA but provides additional rights such as guaranteeing job reinstatement and continuation of health care benefits.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) offers additional protection for pregnant employees. This includes prohibiting employers from discriminating against you because of your pregnancy and making reasonable accommodations to help you perform your job duties.

Florida Civil Rights Act

The Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA) is a state law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on pregnancy and other protected categories. The FCRA also grants pregnant workers reasonable accommodations. The FCRA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for any eligible employees. The act guarantees job reinstatement upon return from leave. 

New York State Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

New York State law includes the New York State Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This law prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant employees and requires them to provide reasonable accommodations. The act grants up to 8 weeks of unpaid leave for medical or disability-related needs due to pregnancy. 

Overall, there are several laws in place that  protect pregnant workers in the United States. It is important to familiarize yourself with these laws and understand your rights as a pregnant employee. This will ensure that your work experience is both positive and protected. 

The most important thing to remember when it comes to pregnancy in the workplace is that you have legal rights under various federal, state, and  local laws. No matter what state you live in, there are laws in place that protect your rights as a pregnant employee. Be sure to educate yourself on the applicable laws and know your rights when it comes to taking time off for maternity leave.  

What Does Pregnancy Discrimination Look Like?

Pregnancy discrimination can take many forms. It can include situations where employers refuse to hire a pregnant person, deny job promotions or raises, impose an undue hardship with harsher conditions of employment or job assignments than other employees, or wrongful termination for being pregnant. It can include a wide range of adverse reactions.  Additionally, employers may also fail to provide reasonable accommodations such as extra bathroom breaks or modified work hours. 

When it comes to applying for a job, the employer cannot ask job applicants questions about pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions as part of the job application. If they do inquire into your pregnancy status or plans for having children during an interview or on a job application, that could be considered discrimination. 

If you have specific health conditions related to the pregnancy, you may need a doctor’s note to confirm your health and safety on the job.  You should also be aware that some employers may not provide accommodations such as additional rest breaks or modified work hours without a doctor’s note.  

Sex discrimination is illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Pregnant workers are protected from discrimination by this law. Employers must treat employees who are pregnant in the same way as they would any other employee. They cannot discriminate on the basis of sex or an employee’s pregnancy.

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What To Do If You Think Your Rights Have Been Violated

If you believe your rights have been violated in any way, it is important to take immediate action. You can start by speaking with a member of Human Resources at your company and detailing the incident in question.  They should also be able to clarify company policies regarding pregnancy and parental leave.  If you do not have a Human Resources Department, reach out to your boss or other higher up person in your company.  If this does not lead to satisfactory resolution, contact an attorney who specializes in employment law and discuss your case. An experienced employment lawyer can give you legal advice and help determine if you have a legal case.  Many lawyers offer a free consultation so you can at least see if you are eligible to file a state or federal claim for employment discrimination.

You must make sure you are an eligible employee.  In order to successfully pursue a claim, you must prove that you have been discriminated against based on your pregnancy or related medical conditions. The attorney can help you gather evidence of the discriminatory behavior. They can also provide guidance in filing pregnancy discrimination charges with either the state or federal agency responsible for investigating such claims.  

What Is Involved In Filing Pregnancy Discrimination Cases?

Pregnancy discrimination claims can be a complex and time-consuming process. First, you must ensure that you have all the necessary evidence to prove your claim. This may include medical records, emails, witness statements or other documents related to the incident in question. Additionally, you will need to file a complaint with either the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the appropriate state agency. After filing the EEOC complaint, you may need to attend a fact-finding conference and/or participate in mediation with your employer. If these measures do not resolve the situation, you may then decide to take legal action against your employer. 

Circumstantial evidence can also be used to prove that you were discriminated against due to your pregnancy. This includes any evidence that your employer treated similarly situated employees who were not pregnant differently in a way that suggests discrimination. For example, if an employer generally allows its employees to take leave for medical needs and denies the same right to a pregnant employee, this could be a valid example of discrimination. 

Direct evidence of discrimination is also helpful in proving a case of pregnancy discrimination. This type of evidence typically consists of statements or actions made by the employer that indicate they knew you were pregnant and still treated you differently than they would other employees.

It is important to note that many employment laws have strict time limits for filing a complaint. It is important to research the applicable deadlines and act quickly if you believe your rights have been violated. If you think you have experienced any type of discrimination while pregnant or after return from maternity leave, contact an attorney as soon as possible. 

What Will I Be Awarded If I File A Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit?

If you successfully prove that your rights have been violated due to pregnancy discrimination, you may be awarded financial damages. This could include back pay for lost wages, attorneys’ fees and costs of filing the lawsuit, reinstatement, promotion or other job-related benefits, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages and more. In some cases, employers are also required to change their policies and practices to ensure that discrimination does not happen in the future. 

Do not be afraid to file because you are worried about adverse action by either a current or a former employer. Federal and state laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who file a discrimination claim or participate in the investigation process. If you are facing any form of retaliation or negative change in your employment relationship, make sure to contact an attorney right away so they can discuss your legal options.

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If you feel that you have been discriminated against during pregnancy or after return from maternity leave, you should contact an experienced employment attorney. They will evaluate your case and advise you on the best course of action. The attorney can help ensure that all of your rights are protected and provide guidance throughout the process. An attorney can also represent you in court if necessary to make sure that you get the justice you deserve.  Do not let pregnancy discrimination stand in the way of you and your career. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can take action to protect your rights. 

You may also be interested in reading:

When to Start Wearing Compression Socks During Pregnancy

When Should I Stop Working During Pregnancy?

How To Deal With Fibroids During Pregnancy

Best Pregnancy Planner and Journal

Prenatal Guide: How Often Do You Go To The Doctor When Pregnant?

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