What should I know about pregnancy discrimination?

What should I know about pregnancy discrimination?

Pregnancy can be a tough enough time in a woman’s life without worrying that her job or career are on the line. There are laws in place to protect you from pregnancy discrimination in the event that you are in need of extra accommodation during your pregnancy, to keep your employer from discriminating against you before, during, and after your pregnancy.

Protection starts before you are even hired. No employer can refuse to hire you because you are pregnant or because you might become pregnant. In fact, they aren’t even allowed to ask you if you are planning on having child, or if you are planning on using maternity leave. Unless your pregnancy interferes with the basic functions of the job, it isn’t a good enough reason not to hire you.

Employers have to follow policies that already exist. An employer may not single out pregnancy related conditions for medical clearance procedures that are not required of employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.  For example, if an employer requires its employees to submit a doctor’s statement concerning their inability to work before granting leave or paying sick benefits, the employer may require employees affected by pregnancy related conditions to do the same.

Your health care coverage stays the same. Any health insurance provided by an employer must cover expenses for pregnancy related conditions on the same basis as expenses for other medical conditions.  Pregnancy related expenses should be reimbursed in the same manner as those incurred for other medical conditions, whether payment is on a fixed basis or a percentage of reasonable and customary charge basis. The amounts payable by the insurance provider can be limited only to the same extent as costs for other conditions.  No additional or larger deductible can be imposed.

You dictate how long you are out and when you come back. Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs.  If an employee has been absent from work as a result of a pregnancy related condition and recovers, her employer may not require her to remain on leave until the baby’s birth.  Nor may an employer have a rule that prohibits an employee from returning to work for a predetermined length of time after childbirth.

Don’t let a pregnancy derail your job, and don’t let an employer turn a happy time into pregnancy discrimination. So long as you can perform your job, keep in mind that you are protected from pregnancy discrimination and from retaliation.