The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. Women must be treated the same as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.
Businesses With Fewer Than 15 Employees
It's important to understand that if a business has fewer than 15 employees, it is not covered by any employment law relating to pregnancy or disability. In this case, the business is free to handle the situation in any way it deems appropriate.
Businesses With 15 or More Employees
If a business has 15 or more employees, it is covered by Texas pregnancy and disability laws, as well as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Therefore, employers are required to behave in a non-discriminatory manner toward pregnant employees, and provide reasonable accommodations for them in the workplace.
Can I be fired because I am pregnant?
No. Your employer cannot fire you, discipline you or treat you any differently to other employees because of your pregnancy. A pregnant employee must be permitted to work if they are able to perform their job.
However, if an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job due to pregnancy, the employer must treat her in the same as they would any other temporarily disabled person. Additionally, if a pregnant employee claims that she cannot perform certain duties or tasks due to being pregnant, the business has the right to require medical documentation for such claims.
What if I have complications with my pregnancy?
If a pregnant employee has complications with the pregnancy, which results in something that can turn into a disability, disability laws will come into play.
For example, gestational diabetes (pre-eclampsia) may qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and an employer may therefore have to provide a reasonable accommodation for a disability related to pregnancy.
Additionally, an employer that allows temporarily disabled employees to take disability leave or leave without pay must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled due to pregnancy to do the same.
A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or perform essential job functions. Reasonable accommodation also includes adjustments to ensure that a qualified individual with a disability has rights and privileges in employment that are equal to those of employees without disabilities.
Note: The facts are very important when determining whether your employer made a reasonable accommodation for your disability.
Am I entitled to take maternity leave?
Texas law does not require employees to give any maternity/parental leave. However, employees may qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.
The Family and Medical Leave Act
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, a new parent (including foster and adoptive parents) may be eligible for 12 weeks of leave (unpaid, or paid if the employee has earned or accrued it) that may be used for the care of the new child. To be eligible, however, there are certain requirements that must be met:
- As of the date on which you intend to begin any leave, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months The months are not required to be consecutive, but if you worked for your employer seven or more years ago, the employer is not required to count that time.
- You must have worked for at least 1,250 hours for your employer in the 12 months preceding the start of your leave.
- You must work with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
There are strict filing deadlines in order to pursue a claim for pregnancy discrimination, Therefore, if you believe that you've been discriminated against due to your pregnancy, contact our office as soon as possible to talk to an attorney.