Pregnancy is a complicated subject in employment law. On the one hand, a pregnant woman may not be able to do the same things she did before becoming pregnant. On the other hand, substantially changing a job for a pregnant woman may be seen as a form of discrimination.
Most companies change any employee’s job responsibilities as needed. The department or company’s requirements may shift because of market conditions, or for other reasons. If a company no longer needs an employee to perform a function that becomes outsourced or automated, an employee can be re-assigned to a different position or department.
Why Are There Changes?
Discrimination based on pregnancy is real. A woman may notice that she’s treated differently after notifying her employer of her pregnancy, or that her responsibilities or entire job is changed.Generally, an employer can change job responsibilities for any employee, male or female, based on the needs of the company, or an individual department or organization. What’s important is the reasoning behind the change.
- Are the responsibilities changing because you asked for accommodation?
- Is your job being changed to accommodate your pregnancy now, and later, your maternity leave?
- Are your responsibilities being changed for some other reason, such as moving you into a new and different position entirely?
- Is the department undergoing organizational changes that would have occurred anyway, irrelevant to your (or anyone else’s) pregnancy?
An employer must allow a pregnant employee to continue working as long as she is able to do so. If you’re able to continue performing the basic functions of your job while pregnant, and you don’t request any changes, your employer is required to allow you to continue. The difference is whether you request modifications to your job duties while pregnant. At that point, the employer must treat you as they would any other employee who requests short-term modifications for work due to a temporary disability.
Can They Change My Job Just Because Of Pregnancy?
If the reason is sole because of pregnancy, the answer is no. This is true even if it’s done for your benefits, such as light-duty, flexible hours, or work-from-home availability. But once you ask for these changes, or request an accommodation, then the company can change your responsibilities to accommodate your temporary needs.An employer has to provide accommodations if they do not require a radical change or considerable expenses on their part.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
Federal law prohibits sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. The PDA is an amendment of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and passed in 1978. Under the law, pregnant women are a protected class while they are pregnant. The law only protects you from discrimination and does not include requirements for health insurance.The law requires companies to treat pregnant women the same as they would anyone else—male or female—with a short-term disability issue.To establish discrimination, a plaintiff is required to show that the change in job responsibilities was intended as an adverse action and that the goal was to either fire or entice the woman to quit her job. This will include showing a causal connection between the pregnancy and the adverse action, such as suspicious timing or a falsified performance review.The EEOC has an FAQ page with additional information, and the Department of Labor also has a map with employment protections for women in each of the 50 states.
Pregnancy-Related Discrimination At Work? Call the Employee Rights Attorneys at KC’s Popham Law
If you’ve been mistreated, demoted, fired, or otherwise discriminated against as a result of pregnancy or maternity, you can fight back. Discrimination against women for pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions is illegal in Missouri and all 50 states. Popham Law has helped many female employees who have been mistreated at the hands of an employer.For a free consultation with the KC employment attorneys at Popham Law, contact our law office today at (844) 243-2288.