What Are Pregnant Women’s Rights on the Job?
Examining the patchwork of laws that protect women
Even though women comprise about
47% of the U.S. workforce, issues surrounding pregnant women’s rights on the job can be confusing.
For example, some women may wonder if their pregnancies qualify them to
receive job accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities (ADA).
Others may question whether it’s lawful for their employer to force
them to take leave until they’re no longer pregnant.
Let’s take a look at the laws that cover pregnancy and discuss how
they may apply to you.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is the main law that protects pregnant women. It is intended to
protect women from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth,
or related medical conditions. That includes:
- Fringe benefits
- Job assignments
The PDA also states that companies may not require pregnant women, or women
suspected of being pregnant, to provide medical documentation that wouldn’t
normally be required of other similarly-situated employees. That is, women
may not be forced to prove that they’re medically fit to continue working.
However, some companies may require documentation before approving any
worker for medical leave. In those cases, a pregnant woman may be expected
to provide a doctor’s certification.
As long as pregnant women can perform the essential tasks of their positions,
they generally may not be forced to take leave. If a woman has to take
off due to a pregnancy-related condition and recovers, her employer may
not force her to remain on leave.
The American with Disabilities Act
While pregnancy itself is not considered a disability under federal law,
changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have made it easier
for temporary conditions to qualify for ADA protection.
That means that some pregnant women may be entitled to job accommodations
that may help allow them to continue to work while pregnant.
However, it’s important to know that any issues involving disabilities
are determined on a case-by-case basis under the law. Every woman’s
circumstance is different, and requires careful consideration of all the
In addition to that, accommodations for temporary disabilities may be
dependent on the employers’ policies for accommodating temporary
disabilities other than pregnancy.
Contact us for a consultation now
If you feel that you’ve been subjected to unlawful pregnancy discrimination,
it’s wise to speak to an attorney to find out more about your rights
under the law.
Call or email us today to discuss your unique situation.