The federal government, along with Pennsylvania state law, often sets guidelines for employers and how they can treat their employees based on certain criteria. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission gives a list of protections that workers are given to avoid discrimination. Some of those protect workers who become pregnant while they are employed.
Both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act protect pregnant workers. If an employee was pregnant, is currently pregnant, has a medical condition caused by or related to pregnancy or had an abortion, an employer cannot discriminate against them. This is also true if the person is just considering an abortion.
This means that an employee cannot be given lesser assignments, passed over for a promotion or job, fired, or forced to take leave for any of the listed reasons. While an employer does have the ability to change an employee’s responsibilities if they are unable to do their tasks and it poses a safety risk to other employees, they cannot do so because they believe it affects the employee’s pregnancy.
Those who have difficulties doing their jobs because they are pregnant or have a pregnancy-related medical condition can request accommodation from their employers. Some examples include an altered work and break schedule, ergonomic office furniture, permission to stand or sit, permission to work virtually or from home and the elimination of some job functions.
Conditions that are accommodated under the law may include sciatica, cervical insufficiency, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, anemia or depression. While the employee can ask their employer for accommodations, the law does not require that the employer make changes that are significantly difficult or expensive. Anyone who feels they have been discriminated against because of a pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition may benefit from speaking to an employment lawyer.