Every woman has the right to work with dignity and work in safety. Many women do experience a great deal of discrimination and even harassment at work, unfortunately. Among the women most likely to experience these issues are the ones that are pregnant. Many employers would rather have a pregnant woman quit rather than give her reasonable accommodations to work and take time off. 

Luckily, there are a lot of rights that women have when they are pregnant so they can continue to work. When there are grounds for discrimination there are a number of laws that will protect them and give them the ability to get justice. The trick is knowing what your rights are when you’re pregnant so you know what you can expect. In this article, we will go over the basic rights you have as a pregnant woman.

1. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA is a law that acts as an umbrella to cover many different scenarios in which somebody needs to take time off from work to care for themselves or a loved one. Pregnant women fall under this umbrella since they are going to need time to give birth and then take care of a newborn baby. 

People are given up to 12 weeks to leave work and do what they need to do to take care of themselves if they are sick or injured or need to take care of a member of their family and are unable to work as a result. The time is unpaid, however, but they must hold your position until you get back. During this period they are not able to fire you or make any changes to your job description. 

Although this is a far cry from what other countries offer their pregnant workers, it is something that you should know is available to you when you do get pregnant. Some employers will try to convince you that you have to quit if you are pregnant but this is not the case. 

2. Reasonable accommodations

Being pregnant can be a challenge physically and mentally for many women. This means that they may need to make some changes to their work environment to be able to do the job properly. You have the right to ask for some reasonable accommodations for this to happen. An employer is obligated to make some changes for you to be able to get the work done. 

An example would be needing to move your cubicle to an area closer to the bathroom in case you start feeling ill. Or, that you are given more frequent breaks to rest. These accommodations will have no impact on your ability to get the job done and won’t put your employer in a difficult position. 

3. Retaliation

A pregnant woman also has the right to work in peace and not face retaliation for the mere fact that she got pregnant. Some employers will want to make the woman uncomfortable and quit so they don’t have to deal with legal issues for firing her. Essentially, retaliation is defined as any negative consequence that is imposed on a to punish them for exercising their workers’ rights. 

This can be any type of action and not just relegated to being fired. For instance, they could change your schedule to one which is going to place a burden on you or your family. An example would be if they know you have other children and need to pick them up from school at a certain hour but a new schedule would make that difficult. 

They could even use retaliation as a threat to prevent somebody from speaking up about what they are facing for simply being pregnant. These threats are also highly illegal. If you have felt any of these types of situations at work then you have a clear case against your employer. 

4. To be hired

One of the reasons that many women are discriminated against when it comes to working is that there is a fear on the part of the employer that they will one day get pregnant and need time off or other accommodations that they are unwilling to provide. Very often, they are passed over for a job they are qualified for in favor of a man who won’t get pregnant. 

This is also illegal as even a woman who is already pregnant can’t be passed over just for being pregnant. This will be very difficult to prove as a hiring manager will use a variety of excuses as to why they are not the right candidate.

5. Fringe benefits

It is not uncommon for pregnant women to be passed over for promotions. Even just women, in general, have a hard time getting promotions even if they aren’t pregnant. This is a benefit that should be applicable across genders, races, and other factors so withholding a benefit for any reason is illegal. 

You should expect to get the same treatment including benefits as any other worker. Unfortunately, some pregnant women find out they are getting paid less than their peers or are not getting the same insurance policy coverage. 

6. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

An uneventful pregnancy on its own is not considered a form of disability and is covered by the ADA. However, there are issues that arise from the pregnancy that will fall under that category and you could be protected by that law. 

For example, gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, a condition that exhibits pregnancy-induced hypertension is considered a disability and provides the protection of the ADA as it would for any other person with a disability. This means that the reasonable accommodations that an employer has to provide are far more expansive than when a person is simply pregnant. 

You may be entitled to some leave before you give birth and are able to use the FMLA for your 12 weeks of protection from being fired or laid off.