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Answering your biggest questions about pregnancy harassment at the workplace

Posted by Amber Boyd | Aug 18, 2022 | 0 Comments

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy in all aspects of employment, this includes hiring, firing, compensation, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits such as vacation and medical insurance, and any other term or condition of employment. In this article, we hope to answer your questions regarding The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). 

What is pregnancy harassment exactly? 

Unwelcome behavior related to pregnancy that occurs in the workplace is known as pregnancy harassment. The behavior could be verbal, written, or physical. Pregnancy-related jokes, gestures, graffiti, drawings, and images can all be considered forms of harassment during pregnancy.

Can only my employer be a harasser?
Male or female, the harasser can be either. The harasser may be a coworker, your boss, a supervisor in a different department, a client or customer, or someone who is not an employee of your employer.

Can my employer fire me if I can't work because I am pregnant?

You must receive the same treatment from your company as other workers who are temporarily incapacitated. For example, if your employer permits other temporarily disabled employees to change their work responsibilities, undertake different tasks, or take disability leave or unpaid leave, your employer must permit workers who are temporarily disabled because of pregnancy to do the same.

Can my employer ask me to take leave because I am pregnant?

Employers are required to let pregnant workers work as long as they are capable of doing their jobs. If you are absent from work because of a pregnancy-related circumstance and recover, your employer may not require you to remain on leave until the baby's birth.

Can my employer demand a medical note from me before granting me maternity leave?

Your employer is not permitted to use specific tests to establish an employee's capacity to work under pregnancy-related conditions. However, if your employer requires other employees to submit a doctor's statement regarding their inability to work before granting leave or paying sick benefits, your employer may ask employees affected by pregnancy-related conditions to produce a similar note.

Is it illegal for a pregnant person to harass or discriminate against someone who has the same medical condition?

Yes. It is prohibited to harass or discriminate against others who have the same medical issues as you. 

Can a potential employer ask me if I'm pregnant or plan to get pregnant during an interview?

Employers are not prohibited by federal law from inquiring about your pregnancy status. However, we advise employers to refrain from asking these kinds of questions since they could signify a potential intent to discriminate based on pregnancy.

Are there any additional rights for expectant workers?

Pregnant workers may have additional rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which can provide certain employees up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave. The U.S. Department of Labor, which enforces the FMLA, can be found online at http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/benefits-leave/fmla.htm

If I report what I believe to be pregnancy discrimination, can my employer reprimand me?

No. It is illegal for your employer to punish you, treat you differently, or harass you because you report the discrimination. This is valid even if it turns out that the behavior you reported was not discriminatory. This is what we mean by your right to be safe from retaliation.

For more information about the Family Medical Leave Act or break time for nursing mothers, go to http://www.dol.gov/whd, or call 202-693-0051 or 1-866-487-9243 (voice), 202-693-7755 (TTY).

Pregnancy discrimination. US EEOC. (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2022, from https://www.eeoc.gov/pregnancy-discrimination 

About the Author

Amber Boyd

Amber K. Boyd is a versatile professional with strong experience in managing complex litigation matters. She founded Amber K. Boyd Attorney at Law in 2013, where she is the sole practitioner. Ms. Boyd specializes in employment law with a focus on discrimination cases. She also has deep expertise ...

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