Understanding a pregnant woman’s rights regarding employment

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2021 | Firm News

Pregnant women may be more hesitant to apply for a new job or tell their current employers that they are with child, for fear of discrimination. However, there are federal and state laws that prevent employers from discriminating against pregnant women.

As long as pregnant women can function in their position, employers must allow them to work, and there are additional requirements regarding maternity leave.

Facts about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes discriminatory actions for pregnancy, childbirth and medical conditions related to pregnancy against the law. An employer may not fire, demote, reduce pay, layoff or refuse to hire a pregnant woman, as long as her condition allows her to function as usual.

Under the PDA, an employer cannot require the employee to take off a certain amount of time after giving birth, and if there is a time during the pregnancy that the woman needs to take a leave of absence, the employer must allow her back to her job when she recovers.

Even if a pregnant woman cannot perform her regular job, the employer must do the best to modify the position or offer an alternative option. If not, the woman can take disability leave or leave without pay, and the employer must hold the job for the absence for the same amount of time as for other employees on temporary disability leave.

Benefits and health insurance

According to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, if employers offer benefits to those with other temporary disabilities, they must offer the same to women on temporary disability due to childbirth or pregnancy. Same for those with permanent disabilities. If employers have policies in place for child care leave, this leave refers to both women and men employees.