Pregnancy Employment Discrimination

Employment Law and Pregnancy Discrimination

Many employees who are pregnant or expect to become pregnant do not know what their rights are in the workplace with respect to pregnancy employment discrimination.  Does my employer have to give me maternity leave?  Do they have to give me light duty work?  Do they have to let me take time off for pregnancy-related issues?  Can they fire me because I am pregnant?

The answers to these questions may vary based on the size of your employment, the policies your employer has in place, and how your employer has treated other employees in the past.  To learn more about your rights as a pregnant employee, read on, or contact Gold Star Law if you would like more information from a pregnancy discrimination attorney.

Can my employer fire me because I am pregnant?

The short answer to that question is “no.”  Pregnancy employment discrimination is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII, the federal law prohibiting discrimination, and the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which is the Michigan law prohibiting discrimination.  Employer cannot fire, demote, fail to promote, refuse to hire, or take any other negative action against an employee due to pregnancy.

However, pregnancy may indirectly lead to firing, and that is not always illegal.  For example, if your pregnancy causes you to have bad attendance or bad work performance, the pregnancy itself does not protect you from being fired.  There is big difference legally between being fired due to poor attendance that relates to pregnancy and being fired for pregnancy itself.

Does my employer have to give me maternity leave?

The Family and Medical Leave Act entitles certain employees of certain employers to medical leave for certain reasons, including pregnancy and childbirth.  If your employer has at least 50 employees, if you’ve worked there at least 12 months, and if you’ve worked at least 1,250 hours in the last year, you are most likely entitled to medical leave under the FMLA.  Your employer is not required to pay you for this leave, and they only have to give you 12 weeks total in a year.

Does my employer have to let me take time off pregnancy-related issues?

 If you are entitled to FMLA leave, that leave can be used for pregnancy-related time off besides childbirth.  For example, if you have pregnancy complications and need to be hospitalized, that would be a valid reason to use FMLA leave.

Does my employer have to give me light-duty work?

Whether an employer is required to give a pregnant employees light-duty work is entirely dependent on the specific situation.  The general rule is that an employer cannot treat a pregnant employee any worse than a non-pregnant employee in a similar situation.  This means that if a non-pregnant employee would be given light-duty work for some other temporary physical restriction, such as a broken arm, the employer must make similar temporary accommodations for pregnant employees.

If you are or were pregnant and believe your employer may have violated your legal rights, please call Gold Star Law to find out if you have a case and what a pregnancy discrimination lawyer can do to help.