Working women have had to face the motherhood dilemma for as long as they have been in the workforce. When should a couple try to have children? How can a woman handle pregnancy while working? What will happen to her job during and after the pregnancy? If you are currently pregnant you may also be thinking “ I am afraid my employer will fire me if they find out I am pregnant. What should I do? ” The good news is that various state and federal laws now protect workers from being discriminated against for a number of reasons, including pregnancy.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, or PDA, is a federal law that prohibits an employer from discriminating based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment. Under the PDA an employer is required to treat a pregnant woman the same way any other worker would be treated who had a medical condition that prevented him or her from performing the required functions of the job. In other words, pregnancy must be treated the same as any other temporary disability. As such, the employer may be required to provide you with an alternative position, light duty, or even short-term disability leave if your pregnancy directly impacts your ability to do your job. In no case, however, can your employer legally fire you because of the pregnancy.
Furthermore, it is also illegal to harass a woman who is pregnant in the workplace under the PDA. Harassment refers to unwanted conduct that is based on a specific characteristic, in this case pregnancy, and becomes illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision.
Finally, the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, may also require your employer to allow you up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave following the birth of your child. Although the FMLA does not require your employer to pay you during your leave it does ensure that you will still have a job when your leave is up.
Only you can decide when and how to tell your employer about the pregnancy; however, rest assured that the law is on your side and that your job should not be at risk as a result of your decision to have a child.
If you have additional questions or concerns about pregnancy and employment law, contact the experienced Florida employment law attorneys at Celler Legal, P.A. by calling 954-716-8601 to schedule your appointment.