Are you protected in the workplace when you are pregnant?

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2020 | employee rights, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) |

The federal and state governments in Pennsylvania have given employers guidelines when it comes to discriminating against employees. For example, no workplace can discriminate because of a person’s age, ethnicity, religion or race. One thing that some people do not think of is pregnancy discrimination. If you decide to get pregnant while you are working, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects you against discrimination in several ways.

The law states that the following things cannot be changed because you are pregnant: job assignments, firing, hiring, layoff, promotions, fringe benefits, training or any other employment condition. If you are unable to perform your work duties temporarily because of a pregnancy related condition, the employer should treat you the same as they would another temporarily disabled worker. You may be given alternative assignments, light duty, unpaid leave or disability leave.

Additionally, it is illegal to harass a pregnant person in the workplace because of a medical condition related to childbirth or pregnancy. Harassment becomes unlawful when the workplace becomes offensive and hostile. Harassers are not just supervisors, but can also be co-workers, customers, clients or supervisors in different departments.

Another law, the Family and Medical Leave Act, also allows for biological, adoptive and foster parents to take 12 weeks of leave once the baby is born. It is up to the employer if the leave is paid or unpaid. To take advantage of this benefit, you must have worked at the company for at least one year. The employer must also meet the threshold for minimum number of employees before they are required to offer paid or unpaid leave.

Adding to the family can be an exciting thing, but extra stressful when employment conditions may change because of the pregnancy. Anyone who feels they have been the object of discrimination could benefit from speaking to an attorney.