The Pregnancy Discrimination Act offers increased protection for women while pregnant. Pregnant women applying for work, as well as those currently working, both receive protection from this act. Essentially, a pregnant woman cannot be treated negatively or demoted simply because of her pregnancy with only a few exceptions. She may also receive corresponding protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act if she is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, becomes bedridden or incapacitated in a similar way.

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Primarily, this act means that an employer cannot treat a pregnant employee differently from other workers. For disability or temporary non-disciplinary suspensions, the pregnant woman must be treated like any other employee. Dispensation of benefits must also be treated in the same way. She cannot be penalized because of the pregnancy.

A pregnant woman must also be given reasonable accommodations wherever necessary. Current case law makes all accommodations reasonable unless they create a great difficulty or unreasonable expense. If that is the case, then you'll need to record your attempts at accommodation and the reasons that they failed.

Remember that you do not necessarily have to do exactly what the pregnant employee requests, but the accommodation that you make must be reasonable, and meet the needs presented as best as possible. For example, it doesn’t mean that the employer has to hire a pregnant woman or retain a pregnant woman in all situations. Let’s say that a pregnant employee must take medications that make her drowsy, and therefore she can’t be expected to operate heavy machinery. If at all possible, her employer must grant a reasonable accommodation. If the business is unable to do so, then it may be possible to let her go on a temporary suspension; but in many cases, it’s possible to provide reasonable accommodation by temporarily adjusting her job responsibilities, for example.

For more help with pregnancy discrimination, it’s recommended to find a lawyer.

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Get started Ask an Employment Lawyer a Question You'll hear back in one business day.