The pregnant woman is one category of employee that employers often are unsure how to treat. And pregnant women are also often curious about their rights. The simple answer to these questions is: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission wants employers to treat pregnant employees as they would treat any other employee.
This, of course, has limitations. If the employee is healthy, then the pregnant employee should be no different than any other employee. However, with pregnancy can often come complications. Some women are unable to perform their duties the same as they would have while not pregnant. Therefore, the EEOC states that employers should provide accommodations in the workplace that assist the pregnant employee. This standard is still consistent with treating pregnant women the same as other employees. Imagine you had an employee who was injured on the job. The accommodations you would make for that employee should be similar to the pregnant employee.
Further, as a general rule of thumb, pregnant employees should never be discriminated against in the workplace. This extends to hiring, firing, promoting, compensation, duties, benefits, and more. Additionally, it extends to current pregnancy, past pregnancy, or potential future pregnancy. Therefore, as an example, an employer choosing not to hire a young female employee with family aspirations, simply because she may become pregnant, would be discrimination under this standard.
Our country (and state) provides standards to employers for all types of employees. They can range disabled workers, minority workers, and injured works. Additionally, there are standards for time off, vacation, benefits, and more that vary based on the size of your business. If you have any doubts about what your rights are as an employee, or as an employer, we encourage you to speak to an attorney.
For more information, please contact an attorney.