How employers should treat pregnant workers

If an employee is pregnant or has just given birth, an employer may not use that as the basis for a hiring or employment decision. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act covers workers in Tennessee and around the country, and a violation of the PDA is considered sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The overall takeaway is that pregnant workers must be treated in a similar manner to others who are dealing with health issues.

For instance, a pregnant employee may need to be granted the ability to perform light duty or receive other reasonable accommodations. It may also be necessary for an employer to allow a pregnant employee the ability to take unpaid leave on a temporary basis. However, a worker must be allowed to remain on duty for as long as she can perform to a satisfactory basis.

This is generally true even if a worker must take temporary leave. Employers cannot require that a pregnant employee remain on leave for the duration of the pregnancy. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows workers to take 12 weeks of leave to care for themselves or family members. FMLA leave is generally unpaid, but employees may have earned the ability to take paid leave in some circumstances.

A pregnant worker who is treated differently than her peers may be a victim of disability discrimination. Such discrimination is generally a violation of employment law, and it may be possible to take legal action against employers who engage in it. If successful, an individual may be entitled to reinstatement to their former positions with full pay and benefits.

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