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Pregnant? You've got legal rights protecting you against job discrimination. Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman, applicant or employee, unfavorably based on her pregnancy, childbirth, or medical condition related to childbirth or pregnancy. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 forbids employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations and the federal government. The act says women affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or workers with similar abilities or limitations, such as temporary medical conditions.

As long as a pregnant woman can perform her job functions, an employer cannot refuse to hire her because of her pregnancy or because of the employer's prejudices about pregnant women or the prejudices of co-workers, clients or customers.

If a worker is unable to perform a job because of pregnancy, the employer must treat her same as any other temporarily disabled worker—for example, by providing modified tasks, alternative assignments, disability leave or leave without pay.

A pregnant worker can remain on the job as long as she is able to perform the work. The employer must hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence as long as jobs are normally held open for workers on sick or disability leave. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act also bans the employer from terminating, demoting or disciplining a worker because of her pregnancy.

If you think you have been discriminated against because of pregnancy, you may file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by calling 800-669-4000 for more information (800-669-6820 for the hearing impaired). Employees have 180 days to file a charge with the EEOC, and federal employees have 45 days to contact an EEO counselor.

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More Info

Discrimination, from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Your Rights During Pregnancy and Childbirth, AFSCME fact sheet

Pregnancy Discrimination, by Workplace Fairness  

Pregnancy Discrimination FAQs, by Youth at Work

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