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Looking to expand your family? What women need to know about pregnancy and work

If you choose to grow your family but fear the repercussions you may face at work because of the time and energy that goes into pregnancy and childbirth, rest assured that you are protected.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces the rules regarding how pregnant women should be treated in the workplace. The Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1964, and Title VII has an amendment referred to as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act that ensures women are not discriminated against because of childbirth, pregnancy or any other related medical conditions.

Here's an overview of pregnancy discrimination protections:

The hiring process and working conditions

If you apply for a job and you are pregnant, an employer cannot discriminate against you because of your pregnancy, if you are able to perform most tasks for the position. If customers, clients or coworkers are prejudice against pregnant women, this cannot affect the employer's hiring decisions or the working conditions you deal with. Any type of discrimination in terms of job assignments, pay, promotions, fringe benefits, layoffs, training and firing that relates to your pregnancy may also be against the law under the PDA.

What happens when you have your baby

Any procedures made or proof required regarding medical conditions during pregnancy must be consistent throughout the company for any medical condition. If you are pregnant, you can work until you are no longer able to perform your job. Once the baby is born, the Family and Medical Leave Act requires that childbirth makes you eligible or 12 weeks of leave to care for your new baby, although you must have been with the company for a year before taking the leave, and the company must be a certain size in terms of number of employees.

If you miss work because of a condition related to your pregnancy and want to come back, employers cannot stop you from doing so. They also cannot stop you from coming back after childbirth at a certain time.

Handling health insurance

If your employer provides health insurance, then pregnancy-related conditions should be covered similarly to other medical conditions. Employers are not required to cover costs associated with abortion unless your life is in danger.

The decision to add to your family or start one should be exciting and filled with fun. If you are dealing with discrimination and problems at work, it can temper the excitement and create worries about your future. If you have questions about pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, meet with an attorney who is experienced in handling employment discrimination claims to learn your options.

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