5 Federally Mandated Protections Against Pregnancy Discrimination

Last week, we discussed workplace discrimination based on pregnancy. This week, we dig deeper into Pregnancy Discrimination Act to understand the protections it guarantees to women. Here are five things you should know:

  1. Pregnancy isn’t a legitimate reason to be fired. In addition, a woman can’t be fired for having had an abortion—or for considering having an abortion.
  2. It is illegal to refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant or may become pregnant. The PDA also protects women against workplace harassment due to pregnancy.
  3. Companies are required to provide a safe, private space—not a bathroom—for women to pump milk. Additionally, companies with at least 50 employees must give women breaks to pump milk for at least one year after giving birth. It is illegal to discriminate against a woman for lactating.
  4. If a woman has experienced pregnancy-related complications that result in a temporary inability to carry out some aspects of her work, her employer is required to accommodate her. For instance, an employer may reassign especially physically demanding tasks to someone else or permit a pregnant women to sit during her shift, if normally she would stand.
  5. If a woman is willing and able to work while pregnant, it is her right to continue working. An employer cannot make assumptions about a pregnant woman’s ability to work. The decision to stop working—or to switch to a less strenuous type of work—during pregnancy cannot come from the employer.

In addition to the above federal law, many states have implemented laws that offer further protections to pregnant woman. Talk to an attorney in your area with experience in workplace discrimination to understand your rights during and after pregnancy.