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5 rights pregnant women should have at work

Congratulations on getting pregnant! As a dedicated employee, though, you likely have concerns about how you'll be treated in the workplace now that you're expecting. Thankfully, several federal laws like the Civil Rights Act and the Affordable Care Act protect pregnant women's rights in the workplace. Whether your employer or boss adheres to these laws, however, can create tension during your pregnancy.

In such situations, knowledge is power. Below are five things that working women who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant should know.

1. Pregnancy can't be a factor in your qualification for a job.

A company or employer cannot fire or refuse to hire a woman because she might become pregnant in the near future. Unfortunately, in low-wage jobs this is a regular problem, and women who are pregnant or may become pregnant might have a harder time getting a job.

2. You should have a safe space for pumping.

Related to pregnancy, new mothers also have rights if they decide to breastfeed. Under the Affordable Care Act (which, granted, could change in the coming months), women have the right to take reasonable breaks during the day so they can pump breast milk for their baby for at least one year. Women also have the right to a private place that is more than a bathroom to feel safe to do so.

3. You're entitled to special accommodations if you need them.

Without complications, normal pregnancies are not considered disabilities under federal law. If you do experience any temporary impairments or complications because you're pregnant, you can seek reasonable accommodations for them from your employer.

4. You job "should" be safe, but isn't guaranteed.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), your job should be kept open for you when your maternity leave ends. This means that, as long as you can perform your normal duties without any problems, your job should be safe. It's important to note, however, that every employer's and employee's situation is unique and exceptions may apply. When you're ready to get back to work, a skilled employment lawyer can help you navigate any return-to-work issues.

5. While your maternity leave may not be paid, it is guaranteed.

More and more companies these days provide some form of paid parental leave, though it may only be a few weeks, especially for men. However, the FMLA guarantees both women and men up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to bond with a new child (including an adopted child). Some parents can accrue enough paid time off to cover these weeks, and some employers' parental leave policies are more generous than others, and offer extended paid leave apart from normal paid time off benefits.

Whatever your company's policy, however, the federal government gives you the right to take time off for your child, and your job should be still available when you return after those 12 weeks.

Knowing your rights makes all the difference

When it comes to starting a family, the law protects you from losing your job or being discriminated against because of your pregnancy. If your employer or your boss ignores these rights and discriminates against you, talk to an experienced attorney about your options to hold them accountable.



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