Protecting Pregnant Employees from Workplace Discrimination

Pregnancy is an exciting time for new and experienced parents. The last thing they want to worry about is how their employers will react. Pregnant employees often encounter unique challenges in the workplace, which can include the need for more frequent medical visits and potential physical limitations. In response, laws such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) have been established to ensure that pregnant employees receive fair treatment and are not discriminated against based on their pregnancy. 

Federal Protections Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically designed to prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The PDA mandates the following protections:

  • Hiring: It is illegal for employers to refuse to hire a candidate due to pregnancy, a pregnancy-related condition, or the potential prejudices of co-workers, clients, or customers.
  • Work Assignments: Employers must allow pregnant employees to continue their duties as long as they are able to perform their job.
  • Leave and Health Insurance: Employers are required to provide pregnant employees with the same health, disability, and sick leave benefits as provided to other employees with medical conditions or temporary disabilities.
  • Accommodations: The law requires that pregnant women be treated the same as other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. This may include adjustments like light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave if necessary.

Michigan-Specific Protections

Michigan supplements federal protections with specific laws aimed at further safeguarding pregnant employees:

The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act: This act extends the prohibition of employment discrimination to include sex, which encompasses pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Michigan law mandates that employers treat women affected by pregnancy the same as others for all employment-related purposes.

Reasonable Accommodations: Employers in Michigan are required to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, such as more frequent breaks, time off for prenatal care, options to sit or stand, ergonomic office furniture, and access to a private space for breastfeeding that is not a bathroom.

Prohibited Actions: Michigan law makes it illegal for employers to deny employment opportunities, fail to reinstate an employee to her original or a comparable position after leave, compel an employee to take leave when other accommodations can be arranged, or retaliate against an employee for requesting or using accommodations.

Employer Obligations

To avoid legal penalties and foster a supportive work environment, employers must:

  • Communicate Effectively: Maintain open lines of communication with pregnant employees to understand and address their needs appropriately.
  • Implement Clear Policies: Develop and enforce clear workplace policies that comply with both federal and state laws on pregnancy discrimination. Regularly review and update these policies to adapt to any changes in the law.
  • Provide Training: Ensure that management and human resources teams are well-trained on these policies to guarantee consistent and fair application across the organization.

Starting a New Chapter with Confidence

Understanding and applying the legal protections outlined in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and state-specific laws like those in Michigan are crucial for creating a fair and supportive workplace. Pregnant employees deserve to work in environments where their rights are recognized and upheld, ensuring they can continue to contribute effectively without facing discrimination or undue hardship.

If you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace due to pregnancy or if you are an employer seeking to better understand your obligations under the law, Carla D. Aikens, P.L.C. can provide the guidance and support you need. Contact us today at (844) 835-2993 to schedule a consultation and ensure your rights or responsibilities are clearly addressed and protected.

The following two tabs change content below.

Carla D. Aikens, P.L.C.

When it comes to the mission and values of the law firm of Carla D. Aikens, P.L.C., there are two words which provide the foundation for everything we do: honesty and integrity. We would be honored to represent you with honesty and integrity in every facet of your case. Please do not hesitate to give us a call or send us an email to schedule your free consultation.

Latest posts by Carla D. Aikens, P.L.C. (see all)