If an employer treats a worker unfavorably compared to other employees because she is expecting a baby, that is pregnancy discrimination. There are many federal laws that protect employees from pregnancy discrimination, including the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission describes some of the forms pregnancy discrimination can take and the rights afforded to workers under these federal laws.
If an employer generally does not pay sick benefits or grant leave to employees without a note from a doctor, he or she can ask an employee to submit such a statement regarding conditions that relate to pregnancy. Otherwise, an employer cannot require special procedures to determine an employee’s ability to work based on a pregnancy-related condition.
If an employee’s pregnancy, or a condition that relates to it, affects her ability to perform her job, her employer must treat her the same that he or she would treat any other temporarily disabled employee. This may include granting disability leave or making reasonable accommodations for the employee, such as alternative assignments or light duty, for as long as necessary.
Assuming that the employee is otherwise eligible, under the Family and Medical Leave Act, an employee may claim up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after adding a new child to the family.
The FMLA benefit is available to both mothers and fathers, who may claim it after the placement of a foster child or adoptive child as well as after the birth of a new baby.