There are laws in place to protect the rights of pregnant women in the workplace. However, many of them still encounter discrimination at work from their employers and coworkers. Each year there are over 5,000 pregnancy discrimination cases filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Apparently pregnancy discrimination is still rampant in companies all over the country. Even though you are a small business owner, if you employ 15 or more workers, your pregnant employees have additional civil rights you must honor. Here is some information that can prevent you from committing pregnancy discrimination in your workplace.
Liability and Well-Being Concerns for Pregnant Women No Longer Apply
It is against federal law for you to discriminate against any pregnant woman in any aspect of her employment. This includes in your hiring, separation, promotion, compensation and benefit practices and offerings. You also cannot implement policies or procedures that limit or prevent pregnant women or women in general from performing their jobs because of their conditions and reproductive capabilities. Even if you are concerned about a pregnant worker’s job performance because of her condition, you cannot withhold or pass her over for a promotion.
Pregnant women who have temporary medical conditions or complications that are related to their pregnancy and have proper documentation from their doctors are entitled to receive the same treatment as regular workers who have medical impairments.
Don’t Ask; Let Them Voluntarily Tell You
Women are not required to inform their employers if they are pregnant or plan to be if they do not want to. This applies to potential, new and current employees. You also cannot ask them if they have children, are pregnant or plan to be at any time. As long as they are qualified and able to perform the functions of the job, you must treat them like a regular employee.
Job Protection Still Applies With Maternity Leave
If any of your pregnant employees decide to take maternity or disability leave, you must protect their job and secure it for them to return to for the same amount of time that you would hold a job secure for an employee who is out on sick or disability leave.
You cannot terminate a female employee at the start, during or at the end of her maternity leave. You also cannot discriminate against a woman if she has a pregnancy-related condition, such as lactation. Employers must treat that employee the same as any other worker who is not affected by pregnancy with regards to their capacity to work. Your organization must accommodate her breastfeeding schedule and cannot treat any woman differently because of it.
Harassment Is Not Acceptable
Employers and their workers are prohibited from harassing women because of pregnancy, childbirth and any related condition. Harassment that occurs often and is severe enough to create a hostile working environment or that results in adverse employment decisions, such as the victim being terminated or being demoted to a lower position, is grounds for investigation and penalty from the EEOC.
You cannot fire or penalize any worker for filing a complaint against your company if they feel they are being targeted, harassed or fired for being pregnant. You cannot treat them any differently than you normally would as their employer.
Health Insurance Coverage Must Be the Same
Small businesses that offer health insurance must provide coverage for pregnancy, childbirth and any related conditions. Those benefits must also offer the same terms, rates and incentives as other benefits that are offered for other medical conditions.
The PDA acts as an umbrella for many other laws that offer women protection against pregnancy discrimination. It is in your best interest to become familiar with all of the pregnancy discrimination laws associated with your state to ensure your organization’s compliance. Failure to do so can affect your company’s reputation, finances and operations.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.