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Understanding the rights of a pregnant worker

In Wisconsin, it is illegal to fire or withhold benefits from an employee due to a pregnancy. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act also forbids an employer from discriminating against a pregnant employee in regards to pay, job assignments or training opportunities. If an employee is unable to perform job duties temporarily due to a pregnancy, the employer is obligated to treat that employee like any other temporarily disabled employee.

This may require an employer to provide alternate assignments, lighter job duties or unpaid or disability leave. As certain physical ailments related to pregnancy may be covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act, an employer may be required to make reasonable accommodations for an affected employee. It is illegal to harass or create a hostile work environment for an employee due to a pregnancy or health issues related to the pregnancy.

The rules against harassment may apply to any employee regardless of status or to customers or clients of the employer. In addition to any rights under the ADA or PDA, the worker may also have rights under the Family Medical Leave Act. This may entitle a new parent to 12 weeks of leave, which may be paid or unpaid leave depending on if the employer meets certain conditions.

An employer is generally not required to accommodate disabled workers under the ADA if it creates an undue hardship to the business. However, pregnant workers may have ot her rights as it relates to how they are treated during their pregnancy. In most cases, they cannot be terminated or passed over for a promotion or other opportunities just because of a pregnancy or issues related to that pregnancy. Anyone who feels as if they are being discriminated against due to a temporary disability such as a pregnancy may wish to speak with an employment law attorney.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Pregnancy Discrimination", October 20, 2014

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