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Nothing is quite as exciting as expecting a baby. Most people will be thrilled to share a piece of your joy when you announce the happy news, but your employer could be a tricky exception.
Are you worried that you may face pregnancy discrimination? Today, we'll explore pregnant women's rights at work in both the United States and Great Britain. We will also discuss how best to inform your employer that you are pregnant, and what to do if your rights are breached.
Good employers will be quite aware that a large part of their valued and trusted workforce will have babies, and that women will get pregnant, take time off work for prenatal appointments, and go on maternity leave. Unfortunately, there is only so much you can do to predict how your employer is going to react to your pregnancy, and employers in different fields have different views on women taking maternity leave. Knowing your rights will give you the chance to protect yourself.
US Labor Laws And Pregnancy Discrimination
In the United States, pregnant employees and pregnant women applying for a job are protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The PDA makes it illegal for employers to treat current or potential employees differently just because they are pregnant. It covers the obvious — hiring and firing, lay offs, promotions and training, but extends to health benefits and job assignments too. It is also illegal to harass women who are expecting a baby to cause them to voluntarily quit their jobs.
The PDA forces employers to treat pregnant women whose pregnancy makes them “temporarily disabled” the same as employees who are temporarily disabled for any other reason. Pregnant women suffering from certain pregnancy-related health problems such as gestational diabetes are also protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you're currently pregnant and facing problems at work because of a complication, reading this act pays off.
Yet a different law — the Family and Medical Leave Act — gives employees who have worked for the same employer for at least a year the right to 12 weeks maternity leave. This leave may be paid or unpaid, depending on your particular employer's policy. In many cases, you can earn paid maternity leave.
You can file at any of their 53 field offices, and it will help if you bring any supporting documents or other evidence you may have with you. The procedure to follow depends on whether or not you are a federal employee.
It is best to try to solve any conflict you have directly with your employer first. You may find that this is easier once you mention the possibility of taking up a case with the EEOC.
How likely are you to experience pregnancy discrimination? That depends on your employer entirely — and you probably have a good idea of how your boss will react to the news of your pregnancy. I'd advise you to be optimistic to start with. Most companies will be happy for you, and will welcome you back to your old job after your maternity leave ends.