Unfortunately, women around the country find themselves discriminated against or fired because of their exciting decision to start a family. Employers may justify the discrimination with concerns about women being unable to work during pregnancy and missing time to care for the child after birth. Anti-discrimination laws are now in place to prevent employers from firing or discriminating against you for being pregnant.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was amended to include the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. This act makes it illegal for your employer to fire, demote or deny a promotion due to pregnancy. In addition, as long as you're able to perform the duties of you job, your employer can't force you to stop working.
If you can't perform the functions your job due to pregnancy, you have the same rights as those who are temporarily disabled. This means that your employer may be able to provide modified tasks, disability leave or leave without pay. However, if your company does not offer these benefits to others who are temporarily disabled, they're not required to offer them to you. Your employer can fire you if you can't perform the functions of your job or reach a modified work agreement.
Americans with Disabilities Act
While pregnancy is not considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, some pregnancy-related conditions are. For example, gestational diabetes or preeclampsia -- a combination of hypertension and protein in the urine during pregnancy -- may qualify you for disability. In these cases, your employer must provide reasonable accommodations such as a modified work schedule or duties.
The Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act provides further job protection after your pregnancy. Under the FMLA, you can take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave during a 12-month period for the birth of a child. You may collect pay from sick or vacation leave you have accumulated; however, additional leave will be unpaid. FMLA leave must be approved by your company before you take leave.
If you feel you were fired unfairly because of your pregnancy, you can file a discrimination complaint with the EEOC within 180 days of the discrimination taking place. Keep detailed records of discrimination to help prove your case. If the EEOC finds that discrimination occurred, it will attempt to get compensation for you. This might include job reinstatement, back pay or a lump sum settlement. You can also file a private lawsuit against your company.
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