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Your pregnancy and employer accommodations under the law

Even in the 21st century, women still face a number of workplace discrimination issues and being treated differently due to pregnancy is one of them. This type illegal action occurs when a woman, whether as an employee or applicant for a job, is treated unfavorably because she is either pregnant, or suffers from a related medical condition to it.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on a woman being pregnant in regard to compensation, hiring, firing, promotions, job assignments, bonuses, medical insurance, layoffs, training or anything else related to employment.

In cases in which a woman is unable to perform her normal duties due to pregnancy or a condition of pregnancy, the law calls for treating her as a temporarily disabled worker and thus should be given a lighter or alternative work load. If this is not possible, she must be given disability leave, or unpaid leave, depending on the company policy as it relates to temporarily disabled workers.

Contracting gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced hypertension, is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, requiring her employer to make reasonable accommodations for her to perform her duties. A 2008 amended ADA Act now makes it much less difficult to demonstrate that someone's medical condition is a disability.

A woman has the right not to be harassed at work due to her pregnancy. Harassment becomes illegal when the severity of it creates a hostile work environment.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, a new parent (including foster and adoptive parents), may qualify for up to 12 weeks of paid (if accrued) or unpaid leave. To qualify, the person must have worked for the employer for at least one year. Under FMLA, a nursing mother may have the right to breastfeed at work.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of pregnancy discrimination, the advice and counsel of an experienced Michigan employment attorney may be your solution during your time of need.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Pregnancy Discrimination," accessed Jan. 18, 2017

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