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How does the Pregnancy Discrimination Act protect employees?

It is not uncommon for women in the work force in Minnesota and other states across the nation to get pregnant. Whether they are seeking employment or are currently employed, pregnant women should understand their rights and how the Pregnancy Discrimination Act forbids discrimination based on their pregnancy and health conditions related to their pregnancy. If a pregnant woman believes that she has been mistreated or discriminated against due to her pregnancy, she should understand that she has options regarding this violation of her civil rights.

How does the Pregnancy Discrimination Act protect female employees? The Act was devised to prevent the unfavorable treatment of employees and applicants because of pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions arising out of the woman's pregnancy or childbirth. This includes any form of discrimination related to the hiring, firing, salary, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, health insurance and maternity leave.

In matters where a pregnant woman is temporarily unable to perform her duties in the workplace due to a medical condition related to her pregnancy or recent childbirth, an employer or other covered entity must treat her in the same matter as they would treat any temporarily disabled employee. In these cases, an employer may have to adjust or modify job assignments or provide disability leave.

Under this Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, a new parent may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of maternity leave in order to care for their new child. In order to be eligible for this type of benefit, it is often a requirement that the employee have worked for their employer for 12 months prior to taking their leave. In addition, the employer must have a specified number of employees in the workplace.

If a female employee believes that she has been discriminated against due to her pregnancy or recent childbirth, she should understand her options and legal rights and remedies. She could file a cause of action for employment discrimination, which could result in compensation to cover the losses and damages associated with the situation.

Source: eeoc.gov, "Pregnancy Discrimination," accessed on Jan. 12, 2015

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