If you are a business owner with some employees who are new mothers or
mothers to be, consider the following labor laws and federal regulations
when making decisions about their employment. While it may seem confusing
to have an employee that is essentially out of the office for a period
of time long enough to warrant hiring an new employee, mothers-to-be have
important rights granting them employment.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Passed in 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination
Act changed the federal law to prohibit pregnancy discrimination under
Title VII. This act clarified that businesses which discriminate against
pregnant women are in effect discriminating on the grounds of sex, which
is illegal. Discrimination in regards to pregnancy can take the form of
derogatory comments, which make light of being pregnant or women in general
who are pregnant. It can also include denying a promotion because an employee
is pregnant when they truly deserved the position, and reducing responsibilities
based on pregnancy. However, reducing manual labor because a woman is
pregnant is understandable if you consult the employee in question and
give her alternate duties.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Passed over a decade ago, the
FMLA requires most employers to provide employees with a certain time
off in the event of a family emergency. Under the FMLA, if an employee
has a baby or even adopts a baby, the worker is to be granted up to 12
weeks of unpaid time off and an equivalent position when they return back
to work. You should also continue coverage of health insurance benefits
during the time off and be prepared to offer even more time off to women
who experience complications during pregnancy or are not recovering as expected.
Breastfeeding-at-Work Laws. Regardless of your personal views concerning
women breastfeeding in public, under federal law you must offer nursing
mothers a non-bathroom space and a break to nurse her child for at least
a year after the child is born. There are exceptions to this law which
can be communicated further with your lawyer.
The Americans With Disability Act (ADA). Pregnancy can be considered a
disability under the ADA, a law which requires employers with 15 or more
employees to provide alternate accommodations for employees to complete
their work. Employers can redo their work policies to allow for less physical
work, longer breaks, or less standing in the case of pregnant employees.
To make sure you are not overstepping your boundaries as an employer and
focusing on the interests of your pregnant employee as well, contact the
Kyle Law Firm so our team of business lawyers can assist you in crafting
an employee policy. If you are accused of not providing adequate conditions
for new mothers, or you are a new mom who feels discriminated against
in the workplace,
contact us today.