A Helpful Guide to Pregnant Workers’ Rights

A Helpful Guide to Pregnant Workers’ Rights | Discrimination Lawyers

A Helpful Guide to Pregnant Workers’ Rights

Pregnancy discrimination affects far too many mothers nationwide. In fact, the latest statistics reveal that about 20% — or roughly 1 in 5 — pregnant women are the target of workplace discrimination and that:

  • About 1 in 4 pregnant women have thought about leaving their jobs in anticipation and fear of pregnancy discrimination.
  • Younger pregnant women are more likely to be the victims of pregnancy discrimination.
  • About 1 in 8 workers says they have witnessed pregnancy discrimination occurring in their workplace.

As distressing as these statistics may be, knowing the laws and pregnant women’s rights can help combat these trends. It can also facilitate the identification, reporting, and adjudication of pregnancy discrimination in workplaces across DC, Maryland, Virginia, and beyond.


What Is the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act?

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was enacted in June 2023 to protect pregnant employees from workplace discrimination while codifying their rights to reasonable accommodations in the workplace, when needed. 

Applying to companies with at least 15 employees, the PWFA serves as gap-fill legislation that provides protections not specifically included in prior laws, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. In particular, the PWFA explicitly requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for: 

  • Pregnant women
  • Mothers who have recently given birth
  • Women experiencing conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth

Expected to improve workplace inclusivity, many see the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act as a progressive step towards fair treatment of all employees, regardless of pregnancy status.


6 Facts About Pregnant Workers’ Rights (& Tips on How to Protect Them)

Understanding the facts about pregnant workers’ rights is crucial to complying with the laws and ensuring discrimination doesn’t create a toxic workplace for any employee. With that in mind, here are some key facts to know about pregnant workers’ rights, along with some simple tips on how to exercise each right.

1. Pregnant Workers Have the Right to Reasonable Accommodations.

Pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable accommodations, as long as those accommodations do not impose undue hardships on a business. These accommodations may include (and are not necessarily limited to): 

  • More frequent breaks
  • Lighter duty assignment
  • Temporary transfers to less strenuous positions.

Tip: Document your needs and include any doctors’ restrictions or medical advice. When you request accommodations for pregnancy or childbirth, do so in writing to create a record of your request.


2. Pregnant Workers Have the Right to a Discrimination-Free Workplace.

Pregnant women and women who have recently given birth are entitled to a workplace that is 100% free of discrimination. That can include discriminating acts like (and not limited to):

  • Unwanted touching
  • Negative comments
  • Demotions or failures to promote based on pregnancy or recent childbirth
  • Limiting shifts or assigning women unfavorable shifts or assignments
  • Firing women due to pregnancy or recent childbirth

Tip: Know the signs of discrimination. If you suspect that you are being discriminated against at work due to pregnancy or recent childbirth, keep detailed records of any instances, events, or interactions that seem discriminatory.


3. Pregnant Workers Have the Right to Maternity Leave.

Pregnant women who give birth are generally entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth and care of their newborn. 

Tip: Schedule your leave in advance and notify your employer as early as possible. Submit any paperwork needed and keep copies for your records.


4. Pregnant Workers Have the Right to Not Be Forced Out of Their Jobs.

Women have the right to retain their positions regardless of pregnancy or childbirth as long as they can still perform their job duties. In other words, it’s against the law for employers to force employees out of their jobs simply due to pregnancy.

Tip: Ask your healthcare provider about your ability to work and get any restrictions documented. Clearly communicate any limitations to your supervisor, HR, or your employer. Also, share your intentions for working, limiting your duties, and taking any planned leaves.


5. Pregnant Workers Have Breastfeeding Rights.

Women who have recently given birth have the right to reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom space for breastfeeding or pumping breast milk. This right will exist until the child’s first birthday.

Tip: Discuss your breastfeeding plans with your employer before returning from maternity leave. That can provide your employer with enough time to make reasonable and necessary accommodations.


6. Pregnant Workers Have the Right to Not Fear Retaliation.

Pregnant women and women who have recently given birth have the right to assert their rights without fearing retaliation or firing. That means it’s illegal for employers to retaliate against an employee for:

  • Requesting or using accommodations
  • Taking maternity leave
  • Filing discrimination complaints
  • Participating in pregnancy discrimination investigations.

Tip: Maintain a record of all your interactions and communications related to your rights as a pregnant worker. If retaliation occurs, these documents can be essential.


Talk to a Top Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer to Find Out More

Pregnancy discrimination is never acceptable. It can also be challenging to recognize or even stand up to for some women, especially if they’re unsure about their rights and the options for justice.

The experienced pregnancy discrimination attorneys at The Spiggle Law Firm know how difficult and complex these cases can be, and we are exceptionally skilled at taking legal action to empower the victims of pregnancy discrimination and help them seek the justice they deserve.

Call (202) 643-5974 or email us for a free, confidential consultation and more answers about a potential pregnancy discrimination claim. 

Our 5-star lawyers have deep experience with all types of pregnancy discrimination claims, providing fierce, strategic representation in and out of court.

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