Everyone knows that discrimination in the workplace is illegal. Pregnant women are also protected from discrimination and this includes women who are applying for a position. There are several laws that directly address this such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and in certain circumstances, the Americans with Disabilities Act.
What are your Rights when Pregnant?
Women cannot be denied a position simply because they are pregnant as long as they are qualified and can perform the duties of the job. You cannot be fired simply because of being pregnant. It is also against the law to for an employer to force you to take a lesser position or a cut in pay if you become pregnant.
You are protected by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which states that a business with 15 employees or more must treat pregnant women the same as other employees. This includes any limitations that may arise due to the pregnancy. If the business has made accommodations for other employees with limitations other than pregnancy, they are obligated to do the same for a pregnant woman.
This can include modifying work and break times. Changes to shifts being worked, and the option to sit rather than stand are a few of the accommodations that can be negotiated. The Americans with Disabilities Act can protect you if there are medical conditions associated with the pregnancy. Conditions such as pre-eclampsia, anemia, gestational diabetes, and others that make certain activities difficult to perform are included the same as someone with a disability.
Health Insurance and Medical Leave
Companies that have at least 50 employees must allow you 12 weeks of unpaid leave for childbirth or other pregnancy-related reasons. If you have worked for this company for 12 months or longer, you are eligible for this leave. They cannot give your job to another person during the 12 weeks that you are on leave.
This 12 weeks of leave is guaranteed under the Family and Medical Leave Act and applies to people who adopt children as well as going through a pregnancy. If your employer allows disability leave for other disabled workers, they must allow the same leave for pregnant women experiencing a disability. They may require a statement from your doctor stating your ability to work. The leave is generally unpaid but may qualify for sick pay depending on your situation.
As for your health insurance, if you are covered under an insurance plan at work, your medical expenses must be covered the same as any other medical circumstances. The amount to be paid by the insurance provider cannot be limited for pregnant women any more so than it would be limited by other medical conditions. They cannot charge a higher deductible.
It is wise to do the research and find out exactly what your rights are if you are pregnant or decide to become pregnant. The laws have changed quite a bit over the last few years particularly with the passage of Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. All are enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor.