In the not-so-distant past, if a woman became pregnant while she was employed, it could mean the instant loss of her job. However, at the end of the 1970s, U.S. lawmakers enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. This act serves as a powerful law that protects women from any kind of employment-related discrimination if they become pregnant.
Still, just because you are protected does not mean it's entirely safe to tell the office about becoming pregnant. Caution is always advised.
How the law protects you from pregnancy discrimination
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 protects employees who work at companies with 15 or more employees from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. As for workers at smaller companies, they can also receive pregnancy protections under California law.
Here are some of the protections that pregnant women benefit from:
- Employers must treat women who are pregnant in the same way as other employees and job applicants.
- Refusing to hire someone on the basis of being pregnant is prohibited.
- Employers cannot single out pregnant women only and require them to complete testing to prove they can still do their jobs.
- Employers must treat women with temporary pregnancy-related disabilities as they would any other temporarily disabled employee.
- Employers cannot prohibit pregnant women from working, and they must allow a woman to return to work after giving birth.
- Employer medical insurance must cover pregnancy-related care.
- Pregnant employees receive protection from needing to pay higher insurance deductibles as a result of being pregnant.
Be cautious when talking about your pregnancy at work
Although the law protects pregnant women from on-the-job discrimination, the world has not exactly caught up to speed with the law. As such, women who have newly become pregnant may want to use caution when spreading the news. Just because you're protected by law doesn't mean you won't face discrimination, so use your best judgment about how and when to inform your employer of your pregnancy.
Have you faced employment-related discrimination at work or while applying for a job? Learn more about your legal rights and options, and you will find that the law is often on your side.