Pregnancy Rights in the Workplace

If you are working while pregnant, you should know your rights in the workplace. There are laws in place that protect pregnant women from discrimination and ensure that they have the accommodations they need to feel safe and comfortable while working. Keep reading to learn about these protections and make sure that you are being treated fairly at work.

Pregnancy Rights in the Workplace


Your Right to Time Off

Depending on where you live, your maternity leave may or may not be paid. You are, however, guaranteed at least 12 weeks off work. There are both federal laws and state laws that designate how long you can take off, and whether or not you can receive pay.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons, including pregnancy. To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must have worked at your job for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months. This law guarantees that your job will be waiting for you when you return from maternity leave.

State Maternity Leave Laws

In addition to FMLA, some states also have their own maternity leave laws. Some of these laws provide more generous benefits than FMLA, such as paid leave or longer periods of time off. Check out National Partnership for Women & Families to find out about the maternity leave laws in your state. In New York, for example, The New York State Paid Family Leave offers up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for employees who have been at their job at least 26 weeks.

Your Right to Reasonable Accommodations

If you need accommodations at work because of your pregnancy, your employer is required to provide them. This means that your employer must make reasonable changes to your job duties, work schedule, or work environment to accommodate your pregnancy. For example, your employer may need to provide you with a private place to pump breast milk or allow you to take more frequent breaks.

A brand new law called the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) goes into effect on June 27, 2023. This law is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and will make it easier for pregnant women to request and receive accommodations at work.

Although pregnant employees are eligible for accommodations under current law, there are some gaps in regards to which pregnancy-related conditions are covered. Under the new PWFA, eligible employees can now get accommodations for “the known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions.”

Your Right to Equal Treatment & Opportunities

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a federal law that prohibits employment discrimination against pregnant women. This means that your employer cannot discriminate against you because you are pregnant or because you have taken or need to take leave for pregnancy-related reasons. Your employer cannot fire you, demote you, or refuse to promote you because you are pregnant.


Communicate With Your Employer

The best way to protect your pregnancy rights is to communicate openly and honestly with your employer about your pregnancy. Let your employer know about your due date, any specific needs you may have, and what accommodations you would like. By working together, you can find solutions that meet your needs and the needs of your employer.

Many employers are willing to be flexible with working mothers. This may mean allowing you to telecommute, adjust your work hours, or job share. Ideally both parties are flexible and you can create a work-life balance that works for you and your family.

Fight For Your Rights

Pregnant women have a number of legal rights in the workplace. By understanding these rights and communicating openly with your employer, you can ensure that you are treated fairly and that you have the accommodations you need to stay healthy and reduce stress while working.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against or denied an accommodation, you should speak to an employment lawyer. They will be able to help you understand your rights in more detail and ensure they are protected.

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