Rights of Pregnant Women at the Workplace

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A large number of women put off pregnancy to advance their careers. According to the data published by CDC in 2017, the birth rate among women aged 30 to 34 years surpassed that of women aged 25 to 29 years. Although the difference was not very much, this raised an important question of why women aren’t prioritizing childbirth.

An article by Healthline quoted that women are getting their unfertilized eggs frozen, medically known as oocyte cryopreservation, to focus completely on work. However, there isn’t much evidence of the success of egg freezing for the long-term.

Some women fear that becoming pregnant will subject them to discrimination in the workplace. There have been a large number of cases where women have lost their jobs because they were pregnant. Discriminating against pregnant women is not just unethical, but also illegal and women should have knowledge of their rights, says Jack Quentin Nichols an Austin employment lawyer.

What the Law Says About Pregnancy

Pregnant employees are protected by two federal laws, namely the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which was passed in 1978, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Both these laws protect employees from being discriminated at their workplace on account of pregnancy.

Knowing your rights at the workplace, especially related to pregnancy and maternity leave, is the first course of action. Men should be aware of these rights since fathers too may face discrimination for taking paternity leave, says a leading age, sex and gender discrimination attorney.

The law states that pregnancy, childbirth and pregnancy-related conditions should be considered as just another medical condition or disability. The employees should be offered the same kind of medical benefits, temporary disability insurance and leave as the organization would offer an employee with a disability or medical condition.

Know Your Rights

A pregnant employee is entitled to a total of 12 weeks of maternity leave, including time before and after childbirth, provided they have worked for that organization for a year and at least for 1,250 hours in a year. A pregnant employee is free to take a part of the maternity leave before the child is born, if they find that they are not physically capable of working during that time. Most companies don’t offer paid maternity leave. In fact, they don’t have to, says a labor lawyer in Austin.     

All women should know that their employer cannot fire them or even deny a promotion or a job just because they are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant. As long as the female employee is able of performing her major job responsibilities, state and local laws protect her against pregnancy discrimination. Employers cannot force their pregnant employees to take leave in such situations. It is an employee’s choice whether to be on leave till childbirth. It is also important to know that no employer is legally bound to reduce job responsibilities or make it easier for the pregnant employee in any way. 

It’s best to book an appointment with a labor lawyer in Austin to have a clear understanding of your rights, whether as a pregnant employee or as an employer.

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