The Family Medical Leave Act was originally passed to help protect employees who need time off to care for a sick family member or tend to a new baby. The law requires employers to give employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year. Despite this, several cases have recently emerged that suggest that employers may still be discriminating against employees who request maternity leave under the FMLA.
One story of pregnancy discrimination comes from a woman in Connecticut who says she was told that missing work to deliver her baby would be considered a resignation. In a conversation that she secretly recorded, her employer tells her that it didn't matter why she wouldn't be showing up for work.
Advocates for women's rights say that this behavior by employers is caused by a gap between discrimination and disability law. Pregnancy is not considered a disability, and so employers are not required to make reasonable accommodations to allow pregnant employees to continue to work.
About seven states currently protect pregnant women by requiring private employers to provide at least some accommodations.
The woman in this case was able to get her job back after she contacted an attorney who discussed the issue with her employer. Some women who are victims of pregnancy discrimination may not know that this is an option and might not pursue the claim. If you believe you or someone you know may have been discriminated against by an employer, it's important to contact an attorney to find out if your employer violated the law.
Huffington Post, Pregnant woman asked to resign Instead of Take Maternity Leave, Feb. 7, 2012.