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Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

Pregnancy can change many aspects of a woman's life, including her job situation. Many women decide to take time off, work different hours or change career paths entirely. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is designed to protect workers who become pregnant. Employees in New York are protected from unlawful discrimination by both state and federal law.

Federal law prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from terminating, demoting, avoiding hiring or otherwise treating pregnant women differently. Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations, such as permitting more frequent bathroom breaks to allow the employee to continue working at her regular job.

Whether or not to disclose a pregnancy during a job interview is a personal decision. Current and prospective employees could consult a company's personnel manual to see what benefits may be available. Women may want to consider whether the company offers paid time off, parental leave, short-term disability or other benefits.

Pregnant women are also protected by other federal laws. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees 12 weeks of time off from work for medical care. While pregnancy is not technically considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations. State laws may offer additional protections than those required by federal law.

It is also important for a pregnant woman to understand what pregnancy discrimination in the workplace looks like. For example, a pregnant woman may be subjected to inappropriate discussions about her body or may be denied opportunities for advancement.

An attorney experienced in discrimination law might be able to help clients understand their legal rights. If necessary, an attorney could help a worker file a lawsuit.

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