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Employment laws protect pregnant women in the workplace

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | Employment Law

Having a baby can be a rewarding and exciting experience, while challenging and stressful at the same time. Throughout your pregnancy, you will no doubt rely on encouragement and support from your loved ones and close friends. Your West Virginia employer, as well, may play a key role in accommodating your needs in the workplace, as with any other employee with an injury, illness or other medical condition. Sadly, pregnancy discrimination exists, but there are employment laws in place to protect you.

West Virginia employers may hire and fire at-will. This does not give them a license, however, to discriminate against a protected class of workers. Pregnant women are a protected class. Under employment laws, your employer cannot fire you because you are pregnant. They also cannot deny you consideration for a job for the same reason. Your employer cannot intentionally pass you over for a promotion or terminate your position when you need time off simply because you are pregnant.

Here’s what employment laws say about pregnant workers and their employers

In 1978, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was amended. The amendment is known as “The Pregnancy Discrimination Act.” Whether you’re a job applicant or already on the payroll, your employer cannot single you out and treat you unfairly because of your condition. Employment laws demand fair treatment of pregnant workers in all aspects of employment.

This includes hiring and firing, issues like pay raises and promotions, leaves of absence, benefits, training and job assignments. Your employer might not have to pay you for time off. However, you must receive the same leaves of absence that any other employee receives in your workplace. In other words, if the company’s policy allows unpaid time off for temporary inability to work due to illness or injury, the policy must carry over to pregnant workers who take time off due to issues associated with their condition.

Protection against retaliation for opposing pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

Many pregnant workers in West Viginia and beyond have hesitated to step forward in the past regarding filing a complaint for pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Such workers say that they feared retaliation from their employers. The good news is that employment laws do more than state what your employer may or may not do as you navigate pregnancy under his or her employ. Such laws protect you from retaliation, as well. It is unlawful for your employer to act against you because you took steps to oppose workplace discrimination.

Questioning a worker about pregnancy

A West Virginia employer cannot ask you during a job interview, or after your hire, whether you intend to become pregnant. Your employer may not assume you cannot perform your duties due to pregnancy but must offer accommodation if you cannot, such as a temporary change of job assignments. Remember, employment laws exist to protect you against discrimination, and you can fight back if your employer has violated those laws.