Employers And Pregancy: Dealing With Discrimination Laws

Posted on: 23 November 2016

If you are an employer, it is imperative that you maintain a clear understanding of all forms of discrimination. Pregnancy discrimination is a form of workplace discrimination that many employers mistakenly overlook. The following is some important information that you need to know:

Pregnancy and the Law

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was enacted and views pregnancy discrimination in the same way as sex discrimination, in that you are not allowed to treat a pregnant employee any differently than a non-pregnant employee. However, there is no assistance in managing a pregnant employee. That is covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Specific Situations to Think About

It is against the law to not consider a pregnant woman when making hiring decisions due to her medical condition. If she is qualified to do the job, she has a right to be considered. When you are hiring, however, it is important that you explain the essential functions of the job. If she is aware of these functions, she should not expect special protections while pregnant.

You may also not require a pregnant employee to provide more notice for her maternity leave. You are to treat her like any employee with a medical condition that needs to take medical leave. However, it is ideal to have a discussion about her maternity leave plans so that preparations can be made while she is out.

You may also not discriminate against a pregnant woman when assigning job duties as long as she is able to perform them. If you have a poorly performing employee who happens to be pregnant, you do not have to keep her solely because she is pregnant. She has no protections if she is not doing her job. However, you cannot use that as an excuse to let her go due to pregnancy. You will have to show proof of incompetence as to why she is being let go if you want to avoid a discrimination lawsuit.

You also are not required to provide a pregnant employee with a different schedule due to her condition. You can do it if you prefer, but you do not have to under the law. If you do make special arrangements for a pregnant employee, keep in mind that you will need to have those same arrangements available to other employees should they have a medical condition.

Dealing with expecting employees is not that difficult, but you need to know what you are both entitled to under the law. Consistency is key if you wish to avoid any legal issues. Treat your employees with the same consistency with regard to leave and medical issues to ensure you avoid any legal issues. If you do find yourself in legal trouble reach out to an attorney, such as one from Lynn Jackson Shultz & Lebrun PC.


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