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Employers, Remember the Law If Employees Are Pregnant or New Moms

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.

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