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Pregnancy: Know Your Rights At Work

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Abiding by the law means that employees are supposed to be treated fairly at work. But since pregnancy discrimination still occurs, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is working to put the issue to rest.

Employee satisfaction is sort of a big deal. If your goal is to have a successful company (which should be the case), then keeping your employees engaged and happy is a necessity. Surprisingly, there have been many cases in which pregnant women have been treated unfairly in the workplace. One such case that began eight years ago is now being taken on by the U.S. Supreme Court.

This case centers around Peggy Young, a UPS employee who sought workplace accommodations from her employer during her pregnancy. At issue is other “light work” accommodations that UPS was providing to other employees dealing with injuries, illnesses and other disabilities, but did not offer employees who were expecting. Young contends this is in violation of the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

UPS, on the other hand, says that its policies are in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act and is “pregnancy blind.” What the Court must decide, it seems, is the apparent contradiction between the two laws and how the courts interpret them (UPS prevailed in a lower court) and a way forward to include the needs of expectant women.

employee satisfaction and pregnancy

© Flickr user mahalie

If you’re planning on having a child, or maybe it’s a pleasant surprise, arm yourself with the facts! While discriminating against pregnant women at work has been illegal since 1978, that doesn’t mean the rules are clear. The EEOC has stepped in and revised their guidelines. Here is the gist of the new rules:

1. You do not have to disclose your pregnancy.

Failing to alert employers in regards to pregnancy is a defense mechanism common among those who fear discrimination. Regardless, women are within their rights not to discuss it if they so choose.

2. Stereotyping is not allowed.

Companies can’t utilize pregnancy as a reason to not hire a woman. They also can’t terminate a pregnant employee because they believe she will leave after giving birth or will be taking too much time off of work.

3. You are still protected after the baby is born.

Female employees can’t be fired based on fertility plans. Whether pregnancy is in their future or not, their job is protected.

4. Lactation and breastfeeding are included in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

While this rule was previously enforced, it has been more defined that any type of discrimination against pumping or breastfeeding is very illegal.

5. Additional medical leave rights aren’t provided.

This is the difference between firing a pregnant woman or firing a woman who has become pregnant. Make sure you know your company’s leave policies!

6. Abortion protection.

While employers aren’t required to have insurance that covers elective abortions, you can’t be discriminated against for having an abortion or be pressured into having one.

7. Pregnancy accommodations are the same as any other temporary accommodations.

If your doctor states you need light duty, and your company allows this for other conditions (such as having a broken arm or other injury), you are allowed those same accommodations.

Of course, the warning signs for these problems often occur in the language used by your coworkers. Watch out for sarcastic comments about work-life balance that might imply discrimination is just around the corner.

Looking for more tips on efficiency in the workplace? Reach out to our productivity consultants. And make sure your workplace isn’t biased against pregnant women: it’s the law.

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Alyssa Shea

Alyssa Shea

Alyssa Shea transplanted from Illinois to South Carolina. She loves to write, read, and spend time with her dog and her family. Alyssa is very active on social media. She has been part of the AccelaWork team since 2013.
Alyssa Shea

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