Under federal law, as a pregnant woman working for an employer who has over 15 employees, you have protections under pregnancy-based harassment and discrimination laws in your workplace. You have the legal right to request and receive adjustments to your work duties that will allow you to still perform your job without jeopardizing your health. The federal laws that offer you protection are the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
If you perform certain job functions that become difficult or dangerous due to your pregnancy, you have a right under the law to request reasonable accommodations that would allow you to perform your job safely. Some of the ways that your job could be altered would include additional breaks throughout the day, the ability to sit instead of stand, specialized ergonomic office furniture, changes in shifts, the elimination of certain duties, or even the permission to work from home.
If your condition during pregnancy limits your ability to perform your job in the exact way as you did prior to pregnancy, and your employer gave accommodations to similar employees who were not pregnant, you may have the right to these accommodations under the PDA. If your pregnancy has led to a specific medical condition that does not allow you to perform your job, you may be able to receive accommodations under the ADA.
In certain circumstances, a pregnant woman will not be able to perform the same job at all after pregnancy, even with accommodations. In these cases, a woman may request to take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. However, when an employee applies for FMLA leave, an employer may offer her the option to take a light-duty assignment as an alternative so that she can continue to work during the pregnancy and not have to take leave. It is important to note that the employee still has a legal right to take the FMLA leave and should not be pressured into any light-duty assignments, however, this can be made as an option by the employer. Either way, under federal law 29 C.F.R. 825.207(e), no light duty assignment may ever count against an employee’s FMLA allotment.
Under the EEOC law, employers must offer temporary light-duty assignments to pregnant employees who are unable to do their job even if they do not attempt to take FMLA leave. This is applicable if the employer offers the same type of accommodations to non-pregnant employees who have similar work restrictions due to health conditions.
If you feel you should have received the option of light-duty work or other reasonable accommodations during your pregnancy, and instead you were discriminated in the workplace based on your pregnancy, please contact the Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak at 415-373-1287 or online, to help you build your discrimination case, and file your claim.