It is not legal anywhere in the United States for an employer to openly discriminate against a pregnant employee. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to the Title 7 of the Civil Rights act of 1964, clearly shows this.
However, understanding the law surrounding maternity leave is vital so that you can enjoy the full protection of the law. According to FindLaw, while employers may not subject pregnant employees to special procedures, an employer may screen a pregnant employee’s ability to work so long as the employer does so in an equitable manner.
What is “equitable screening?”
While an employer may not require a pregnant employee to go through special processes, it can apply standard procedures as it would to any other employee. For example, in the event that an employer requires all employees to obtain a doctor’s note in order to grant medical leave, it is not pregnancy discrimination to require this of a pregnant employee. However, an employer may not require this only from pregnant employees.
How must an employer treat a pregnant employee?
In the event that pregnancy renders an employee temporarily disabled, the employer must provide the same modifications that they would for any temporarily-disabled employee. This may include modified tasks and alternative assignments, and it might involve offering leave without pay.
Employers must allow pregnant employees to work so long as they are able to do so. If the pregnant employee must be absent from work due to pregnancy-related medical issues and recovers, then the employer may not require the pregnant employee to stay on leave. Essentially, so long as the employer is treating the pregnant employee equitably, the employer is doing right in the name of the law.