Working while pregnant or nursing can prove difficult for a number of different reasons, but you may find it especially troublesome if your employer fails to make reasonable accommodations as a result of your condition. However, if your employer maintains a staff of at least 15 people, two federal laws give you certain rights regarding being pregnant in the workplace.
More specifically, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act both protects you and sets guidelines that your employer must follow concerning pregnant employees. Just what types of protections do these federal laws allow you?
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Essentially, the PDA asserts that your employer must treat you the same way that he or she would anyone else who has a similar ability, or inability, to work when it comes to hiring, firing, benefits, promotions and most other employment elements. While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects you while you are actively pregnant, it also protects you when you are dealing with a condition relating to a past or potential pregnancy.
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act
When you are pregnant, you may experience impairments relating to your pregnancy that constitute a disability under the terms of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some such conditions may include preeclampsia, gestational diabetes or sciatica, among others. Under this particular act, your employer must make reasonable accommodations to make things easier on you because of your condition. This may include changing your work schedule or allowing you to occasionally work from home. Other reasonable accommodations could include lightening your workload or modifying existing policies regarding break times and the like.
In summary, as long as your employer has a staff of at least 15 people, he or she cannot discriminate against you in any way simply because you are pregnant.