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What rights do you have as a pregnant woman in the workplace?

Showing up to work every day while pregnant can be challenging under the best of circumstances. If you also experience discrimination because of your condition, it can prove even more difficult. The good news is, your employer may not lawfully discriminate against you for any reason relating to your pregnancy, provided he or she employs a workforce of at least 15 people.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there are several regulations in place that may govern how your employer must treat you when you become pregnant. One is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and the other is Title 1 of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act contains a lot of information, at its core, it dictates that employers with at least 15 people working under them must treat pregnant women in the same manner they would other employees who have similar disabilities. For example, they cannot make hiring or firing decisions that consider an applicant or employee’s pregnant condition, nor can they offer pregnant women anything different than other similarly disabled employees in terms of benefits. While these guidelines protect women who are currently pregnant, they also cover past or potential pregnancies and pregnancy-related conditions.

Title 1 of the Americans With Disabilities Act

Title 1 of the Americans With Disabilities Act offers similar protections for pregnant women. However, it is important to recognize that pregnancy, itself, does not constitute a disability. Rather, certain conditions that can arise alongside pregnancy may constitute a disability, such as gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome. If you have a pregnancy-related disability, your employer must make “reasonable accommodations” so you can still carry out your job duties, even if he or she believes doing so may not be in your best interest.

If you work for a company that employs at least 15 people and have experienced pregnancy-related discrimination in your place of business, know that your employer is likely violating at least one of the above protections.

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