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April 13, 2022

FMLA and PDA: What Rights Do You Have as a Working Pregnant Woman?

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Divorce Lawyer

As an experienced divorce lawyer from Garrett, Walker, Aycoth & Olson, Attorneys at Law can explain, while there are no set maternity leave laws in certain states, certain employers must allow employees to take time off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

The FMLA requires all public agencies, all schools, and companies that employ more than 50 employees within 75 miles to allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for the following reasons: serious illness, caring for a spouse, child, or parent with serious medical condition, adopting or fostering a child, or birth and care of a newborn child. 

To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked for her employer for a minimum of 1,250 hours over the past 12 months. Employees must also notify their employer that they will be taking maternity leave at least 30 days in advance. The employer must keep the employee’s job open until she returns from FMLA leave.

Pregnant women also have rights under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The PDA under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also provides pregnant women with additional protections in the workplace. The PDA protects pregnant employees from employment discrimination based on childbirth, pregnancy, or related medical conditions. Generally, workplace pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee differently because she is pregnant. Pregnant employees are entitled to continue working as long as they can perform their jobs. If an employee is temporarily unable to do her work due to her pregnancy, the employer must treat her like it would treat other temporarily disabled employees.

If a pregnant woman experience any of this discrimination, then she might be entitled to relief. If your employer disciplines you for taking maternity leave under the FMLA, you may file a claim for retaliation. You will need to prove that: you are entitled to maternity leave under the FMLA, FMLA covers your employer, you suffered an adverse employment action (e.g., your employer fired or demoted you), and you taking leave was what caused your employer to take the adverse action. 

If your employer refused to approve your maternity leave or discouraged you from taking leave, you may file a claim for interference. An interference claim requires you to prove that: you were eligible for maternity leave under the FMLA, FMLA covers your employer, you provided your employer with enough notice of your leave, and that your employer denied your leave. If you successfully prove that your employer retaliated against you for exercising your FMLA rights or interfered with exercising your FMLA rights, you may recover damages. Damages can include job reinstatement, back pay, and liquidated damages (unless your employer proves it acted in good faith).

Contact a top rated divorce lawyer for personalized assistance with your unique FMLA issues.

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