Can a Job Fire You While Pregnant?
Pregnancy can be both a happy and unsettling experience. The joy of bringing a new life into the world can be weighed down by the uncertainty of how it will affect one’s job and career. Many women worry about whether or not their job can fire them for being pregnant.
The short answer is generally, “No.” US law prohibits employers from firing workers due to pregnancy or childbirth. This includes hiring, promotions, and other job decisions related to pregnancy and childbirth.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 prevents employers from making any negative job-related decisions on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This act serves as a blanket to protect expecting and recently pregnant mothers. According to the act, any current or future employee who is pregnant is needed to be treated the same as any other employee who is not pregnant but had any type of physical condition or similar limitation.
Exceptions to the Rule
While this act serves to protect mothers from work-based discrimination, there are some exceptions to the rule. For example, if the employee’s health becomes an issue due to the pregnancy and she is unable to properly perform her job, then her employer may be able to terminate her. The same applies if the employee does not meet the requirements of her position and proves to be a danger to her own health or the health of her unborn child.
Other Rights for Pregnant Employees
Pregnant employees also have the right to:
- Reasonable Accommodation: Pregnant employees have the right to reasonable accommodation. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to ensure their safety, health, and well-being. This may mean providing assistance, breaks, additional restrooms, mobility assistance, or other reasonable accommodations as determined by the employer.
- Leave: Employers must provide unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks for medical to care for oneself or a newborn child.
- Return to Work: Upon returning from leave, an employee must be allowed to return to their job and given the same opportunities as any other employee.
Pregnant employees also have the right to be free from harassment or discrimination due to their pregnancy. This includes any negative remarks or comments by fellow employees or employers.
US law prohibits employers from firing employees due to pregnancy or childbirth. As a result, pregnant employees can rest easy knowing that their job will be safe and secure throughout the duration of their pregnancy. However, employers are allowed to terminate an employee if their health or ability to perform duties become an issue due to the pregnancy. In any case, expectant and new mothers have access to reasonable accommodation and job protection provided by US law.