Pregnancy Rights In The Workplace

pregnant woman working

While you're pregnant, it’s important to be aware of your rights as a working woman, whether you’re trying to get a job or keep your existing one. It can be difficult knowing what is and isn’t appropriate, and sometimes employers themselves won’t know, so make sure you do! Here are some important things to keep in mind when tackling your working situation during pregnancy.

It can be intimidating to break the news of your pregnancy to your employer and co-workers. It’s best to start by knowing your rights.

  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prevents employers of companies with more than 15 employees from discriminating against you based on your pregnancy, whether it’s related to hiring, firing, pay scale, promotions, layoffs, benefits, training, or pretty much any other term or condition of employment. Always be aware of that!
  • If you’re searching for jobs while pregnant, don’t make your pregnancy a focus. For example, a cover letter does not need to disclose that you are pregnant, though employers cannot discriminate you based on it. Keep employers focused on your skill sets and what you can offer them—not your pregnancy. At the same time, being honest will create trust between you and a potential employer, so avoid being overly secretive.
  • Any health insurance your employer provides must cover pregnancy-related expenses in the same way it covers other medical conditions, with the exception of abortion (unless the mother’s life is at risk).
  • As long as you’re able to perform your job effectively, your employer cannot force you to take leave because you are pregnant.
  • If your pregnancy advances to where you can no longer work properly, you can take part of your maternity leave before you give birth, thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act; however, there are some requirements under the FMLA: You have to have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the 12-month period IMMEDIATELY preceding your departure, and the place where you work is under an employer that has at least 50 employees within 75 miles. This is according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Your 12 weeks of leave can be used any time within the first year of your child’s birth—you don’t have to take it all during pregnancy.
  • Pregnancy rights can vary between states, so gather as much information as you can about the state you live in.
  • Single mothers have the same pregnancy rights as those who are married.

MORE: Dealing with Pregnancy Challenges in the Workplace }

If you feel like your employer is not respecting your rights in the workplace, make sure you keep a written record of individual events and situations. Talking to your employer may solve the situation. But if not, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will listen to the issues you’re having and help you file a Charge of Discrimination. Unfortunately, you can't file a Charge of Discrimination online, but you can contact them at 1-800-669-4000.

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If you want to find out more information about what a Charge of Discrimination is, or if you have other questions about setting things straight concerning the discrimination, go to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website.

Have you had any particularly positive or negative experiences when it comes to your employer respecting your workplace rights while you were pregnant, or after giving birth?

What do you think?

Pregnancy Rights In The Workplace

Tell us what you think!

22 comments

  1. Brandi says:

    I am 7 months pregnant i just started my job a month ago im scared that when i go on maternity leave i will get fired or that they will reassign me post to some one else.my back up plan is to find a way to make a income from home but i really love my job so my question is by law can they fire me for ging on leave in the first 90 days

  2. Amber says:

    I work at a warehouse, I am constantly on my feet doing a lot of manual labor. My job only offers one 30 minute break a day. I am suffering bad morning sickness that lasts all day, my employers are not very sympathetic to my pregnancy. I try to sit for a few minutes to avoid fainting or throwing up and instead of trying to understand my situation, I get in trouble and I’m sent home for the day. I have worked there for a year. I am afraid I will get fired and will be told that I am being laid off due to no work. They lay people off using that excuse when they feel someone is a liability for the company. Is there anything I could possibly do to calm my sickness and to avoid my employers cutting my hours? I live in Florida and Florida does not require breaks in the work place. And I have been very unlucky to find a new job. I need this job very much.

  3. Iris says:

    Tomorrow is my first day on a new job I applied for, but I am extremely worried. Im in the 90 day probation before they hire me. I got hired 2 days ago, and I did not tell them I am pregnant. Should I tell them tomorrow right away? I feel like they will fire me because I’m pregnant, well technically I have not officially been hired. What should I do? I was thinking of working all of this upcoming week, and then next monday after they see how I work I could come out and be honest and let them know about my pregnancy…. I really need a job especially right now….what should I do?

    • Megan Klay says:

      Hi Iris – How far along are you? If possible, I would try to wait until you’re out of the 90-day probation period to say anything. Be sure you’re not doing anything too physically demanding, which could harm you or the baby. If you start to show to the point where you can’t hide it anymore or if you’re having trouble performing your duties, say something. Best wishes!

  4. Latisha says:

    Im starting a job as an environmental tech full time im 25 weeks and they dont know im pregnant its for a hospital and im wondering should i tell them or not? Im able to do the job o even went to our employee health nurse to have a physical done and im able to perform the job duties so im wondering do they really need to know or not?

    • Megan Klay says:

      Hi Latisha – If your doctor feels it is safe for you to work, and the Employee Health Nurse deems it safe, then there is really no need for you to let them know until you start to show and/or need any modifications to your job duties. Just be careful not to share your news with anyone at your office so that it doesn’t get back to your employer before you’re ready to tell them. 🙂

  5. Nalisha says:

    I work at my retail job for 8years, I finally became full time back in 2013, I always worked my butt off, I eventually became sick in January leading into February came to find out I am pregnant, during that time I was late for work couple of times due to morning sickness I explain it all to my manager, a few months later she took away my full time position because of my situation, now I work part time 1day a week I became stressed out because I have bills to pay and my little one to prepare for, so some how I feel discriminated because there are lots of stuff I can do at my job that doesn’t affect my pregnancy and on top of that my bills and my family has to suffer.

  6. Renee says:

    I honestly think if you go looking for a job while pregnant you should disclose your pregnancy upfront. One of the things to consider BEFORE conceiving would be your current employment, need for employment, or lack thereof (SAHM). I would consider a recently hired employee to be dishonest if they withheld information right from the beginning. Also if you have held your job for a respectable amount of time and have done well in your position you don’t have to worry about losing your job due to pregnancy.

  7. Kay says:

    very helpful as I begin to talk to my boss…

  8. Kari says:

    I worked through a temp agency who assigned me to a sales & marketing place. I worked there for nearly 2 months, found out I was pregnant, and they told the temp agency that they needed a replacement. They said they based it off the fact that I moved too far away from my job and that I couldn’t travel, but the temp agency still believes that it was because I’m pregnant. Discrimination still happens. Even if there are laws to protect you, they still look for every excuse to get rid of you aside from telling you it’s because you’re pregnant. Sad, but true that this is the world today.

  9. sharrion says:

    Im currently 22 weeks pregnant and am off of work on fmla already due to having to be on strict bed rest for the next 6 weeks at least then when he gets here I have to have at least 6-8 weeks off maternity leave. FMLA is only 12 weeks im going to be over that. Is there anything I can do To save my job?

  10. Shaley says:

    I have been working with my employer since the beginning of September 2013, through a temporary service. They just asked to hire me on last week and started on their payroll on Monday, the 10th. I will be 22 weeks tomorrow, and they still don’t know I’m pregnant because I wear my coat everyday, since they keep the office so cold. I am going through the 90 probationary period, that you have to go through when getting hired at any job, but my pregnancy is going to be obvious before my 90 days will be up! I feel bad not telling my boss, but I am scared that since I just started my “probationary period” with the company that they will let me go if I tell them I am pregnant and will have to take some time off after having the baby during the busiest month of the year for this company! Should I tell them? Should I wait until they ask, due to the obvious belly? I don’t know what to do! Can they let me go due to pregnancy since I’m in my 90 day probation period????

  11. Rose says:

    I currently suffered discrimination because of my pregnancy. I lost my job, and now I am suing the company.

  12. Ashley says:

    This article doesn’t give enough details. Not all parts of the PDA apply to all businesses, there are exceptions for small businesses but I don’t know what they are. A discussion of what to do aside from call a hotline would be helpful too. Lots of businesses ignore the law, betting on the woman’s ignorance or lack of ability to contest their actions legally.

  13. mommy nhoj says:

    Thanks for giving us the summary of the PDA. Nice to know article

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  15. Kim says:

    Austin. I can see what your saying… Florence`s comment is incredible, last week I got themselves a Chrysler since I been making $8649 this-last/4 weeks and-also, $10,000 last month. with-out a doubt this is the most-comfortable job I have ever done. I started this 7-months ago and almost straight away startad making minimum $86, p/h. read more >>>>>> check44.COM

  16. Alana says:

    This is great to keep in mind. I’m definitely trying to find a good job for the last of y pregnancy.

  17. LIZ says:

    Very important information to know about, tnx so much

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