Pregnancy, although it is covered under the Family Medical Leave Act, is not a disability. Women often work through their entire pregnancies and return to their jobs within two months of delivering their babies. Unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination is a real problem in workplaces today. It's important for pregnant women to know their rights so they can protect themselves and their source of income.
Federal labor law protects pregnant women who apply or work for companies with 15 or more employees. Although women are not required to disclose a pregnancy to a potential employer, revealing it during the interview process could benefit pregnant women. For example, the interviewer's reaction to the information may give a woman insight into how the company treats mothers and help her decide whether she wants to work there. Having this conversation early may give a new hire a chance to learn about the options available to her if she needs to take time off work later to deal with an illness or even to care for a sick child.
Pregnant women who are already working and need special accommodations as simple as being able to use the restroom more frequently, or taking time off for doctor appointments, sometimes have trouble getting what they need from their employer. The Family Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act may offer protections for pregnant women that could help them keep their jobs if they are unable to work due to pregnancy-related conditions.
Workplace harassment, including inappropriate touching and unwelcome discussions about a pregnant woman's body, could make working very uncomfortable. Women who experience harassment should follow their company's procedure but may also wish to contact an attorney before meeting with the human resources department. An attorney could explain workers' rights and may be able to help them prove workplace discrimination in court if they are unable to get relief from their employer.