Anticipating the birth of their children can be one of the most exciting prospects for many women. However, many women wonder if the pregnancy puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to employment opportunities or keeping a job during the period of pregnancy.
Some employers might even refuse to employ a pregnant woman or treat the pregnant woman differently than other employees within the workplace.
Unfortunately, this is usually done in a covert way.
Can a Job Refuse to Hire Me Because I am Pregnant?
An employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, a pregnancy-related condition, or the prejudices of coworkers, clients, or customers. In addition, an employer may not take any adverse action against an employee, such as firing, demoting, or withholding a promotion, because she is pregnant.
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Pregnancy Discrimination is covered under Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces the provisions of this part of the act.
Another relevant law to this effect is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (which is an extension of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.
What Conditions do these Laws Cover?
The laws cover pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. Under Title VIII, relevant conditions include:
- Severe morning sickness
- Doctor-ordered bed rest
- Recovery from childbirth
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, it includes:
- Taking care of a newborn or a newly adopted child
- Taking care of a seriously ill child, parent, or spouse
Pregnancy and Job Applications
Under the Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal for an employer to refuse to hire a woman because of her pregnancy, as long as she can perform the major functions of that role. Also, an employer cannot refuse to hire you because of their own prejudice against pregnant workers or the prejudices of co-workers, clients, or customers.
Many employers can do this by telling a job applicant to come back after she has had her child. Such situations qualify as a breach of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
A job applicant is not mandated by the law to disclose her pregnancy status (in the case the pregnancy is not obvious). Consequently, you do not have any responsibility to inform your employer of your pregnancy status. This ensures that your employer cannot revoke your appointment if he or she discovers your pregnancy status after giving you the job.
Whether the employer is aware of your status or not is totally irrelevant to their hiring process as long as you can perform the major functions of your role. In fact, an employer cannot ask if you are pregnant or plan to have children.
Pregnancy on the Job
It is also important to be familiar with how the law works when you are already an employee. This will help you prepare yourself to identify any cases of discrimination in your workplace.
Provisions of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
By virtue of this law, it is illegal for an employer to deny the same or similar job to an employee when she returns from a pregnancy-related leave. Employers cannot take away your job after returning from a pregnancy-related leave.
Furthermore, employees who are pregnant (or the other conditions above) should have the same treatment as other temporarily disabled employees.
The employer cannot:
- Deny time off or reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees
- Fire or demote an employee because of pregnancy or pregnancy related conditions
- Force time off or restrictions on the work upon employees with pregnancy or pregnancy related conditions
Provisions of Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
The FMLA guarantees that all employees, male or female, who have worked for a company with more than 50 employees for a year or more has a right to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. The leave applies to serious medical conditions, which can include pregnancy.
The employee can access this leave every year. During the leave, they will maintain their health benefits.
Can a job refuse to hire you because you are pregnant? Yes, many of them will try. However, can they do so legally? No. An employer may not discriminate against you because of your pregnancy either as a job applicant or an employee. If you have any further questions about your rights as a pregnant employee, please contact us today.