Female workers who are pregnant may wonder what their responsibilities are to their employers regarding their pregnancy. For instance, do they need to inform their supervisors of the pregnancy? Or even, how should they respond if asked by a boss whether or not they are pregnant?
What exactly are an employee’s rights and responsibilities in this situation?
You have the right to manage the information you share about your pregnancy
Pregnant workers are under no obligation to share their pregnancy status with their employers. You may not want to disclose this information for any number of reasons, from anxieties about the viability of the pregnancy to concerns about being sidelined because of your condition.
With that being said, pregnancy will at some point become evident. While this does not affect your rights in the matter, if you intend to seek leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you must give at least 30 days’ notice prior to taking leave when the leave is foreseeable.
My employer wants a medical clearance from my doctor: Is this legal?
No, it is not. Your pregnancy is covered under privacy provisions regarding employees’ medical information. Your company has no right to ask you for a physician’s statement as a condition of your continued employment.
Can I be sidelined with light duty because of my pregnancy?
While you have the right to seek modified duties because of your pregnancy, you cannot be forced into taking leave or put on restricted work duties as a result of the pregnancy unless your condition interferes with your carrying out your essential job duties.
Understand your rights under the law
Since 1978, pregnant employees have been protected against discrimination in the workplace under the provisions of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). This addendum to the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits the following employment actions against a pregnant worker:
- Restricting work assignments
- Refusing to hire pregnant candidates
- Terminating pregnant workers
- Eliminating or changing health benefits
- Reducing pay
- Refusing to promote
- Reassigning tasks
- Reduction in force layoffs
- Denying training
You may have additional rights under the law, dependent upon any contract you signed when you commenced your employment. Learning all you can about your legal rights when pregnant and working can solidify your position should your rights be infringed upon by your employer.