Women have long wrestled with the issue of pregnancy and work. When all goes perfectly, most women are able to work right up to the birth of a child without altering their workplace duties; however, in some cases an expectant mother is placed on restrictions to protect the health of the mother and/or the unborn child. If you are pregnant and on doctor’s restrictions you may be wondering if your supervisor is legally required to adhere to those restrictions.
Federal law, in the form of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, or PDA, prohibits employers from discriminating against a woman because of her pregnancy. Discrimination, in this context, means treating her unfavorable in 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.
When a pregnant employee is placed on restrictions by her physician, the American’s with Disabilities Act, or ADA, may also provide protection if the employee has a serious pregnancy related impairment such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia.
In general, however, an employer is required to treat pregnancy related restrictions the same as they would treat an employee who was placed on restrictions for any other injury, illness, or medical condition. For instance, if an employee fell and twisted an ankle and the doctor ordered the employee to remain at a desk position for two weeks, the employer would be required to honor those restrictions. An employer must do the same thing for an employee placed on pregnancy related restrictions.
Finally, if your employer allows temporarily disabled employees to take short-term leave because of the disability, the employer must also allow you to do so if your condition dictates. In the previous example, imagine that instead of just twisting the ankle the employee broke his ankle and could not walk at all for those two weeks. If the employer allowed that employee to take those two-weeks of short-term disability leave the employer would also be required to allow you short-term disability leave if your pregnancy required doing so. Furthermore, your employer cannot use different procedures to decide if you are able to work and/or if you qualify for temporary disability leave.
The bottom line is that an employer must treat a pregnant employee the same as any other employer would be treated with regard to medical conditions and leave time. Although there are numerous laws that protect pregnant workers, navigating those laws can be confusing. If you feel your supervisor has not treated you fairly and/or has ignored the restrictions your doctor placed on you, contact the experienced Florida employment law attorneys at Celler Legal, P.A. by calling 954-716-8601 to schedule your appointment.