Along with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act sets forth multiple guidelines that employers need to adhere to when dealing with pregnant workers. For instance, employers are prohibited from treating their employees differently because they are, were or plan on getting pregnant. They also can't discriminate against those who contract pregnancy-related medical issues or have considered or received abortions. It's important to note, however, that these protections only apply when employers have at least 15 workers.
In some cases, employees who become pregnant can seek special accommodations. These include allowances such as schedule changes, task modifications and ergonomic considerations, like being allowed to work from a seated or standing position. In some cases, expecting mothers may even be permitted to telecommute.
Those who can't work at all are sometimes granted unpaid leave instead of other accommodations. Workers are allowed to request specific accommodations, but they can also work with their employers to figure out acceptable arrangements. Employers are forbidden from mistreating employees who ask for accommodations, and women who believe they've been discriminated against have 180 days to submit their charges to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In some cases, such as when other jurisdictional employment discrimination rules come into play, this time limit extends to 300 days.
Although laws prohibit workplace discrimination based on factors like pregnancy, some employers may attempt to violate the rights of their workers. For instance, expectant mothers whose physical capabilities change as their pregnancies progress might be given reduced hours without also being granted options for alternative employment. Some bosses illegally hold pregnancies against workers when it comes time for performance reviews or promotions. Talking to a lawyer about suspected discrimination could make it easier for victims to seek restitution.