Can Your Boss Ask You if You’re Pregnant? Your Rights Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Woman who was suspected of being pregnant was forced off the job
There are many reasons newly-pregnant women may want to keep their conditions a secret as long as possible.
But what if a supervisor suspects that you’re pregnant? Is it illegal for him or her to ask you? And can you be forced off the job if your boss thinks that your pregnancy could cause liability issues for the company?
Rumors of Pregnancy
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is currently suing an employer for doing those very things. The lawsuit alleges that Brooke Foley, an employee at Shipley Do-Nuts, was illegally fired after her boss accused her of being pregnant.
Apparently the supervisor had heard talk among other employees that Foley was expecting. The boss confronted Foley about her condition in front of other workers, but Foley refused to answer. She was then put on unpaid leave until she could return with a doctor’s note saying that she was not undergoing a high-risk pregnancy and that she was cleared to work.
Foley refused to bring in the documentation so she was fired. Now the EEOC is suing on her behalf, claiming that the company violated her rights under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).
(The case discussed here is EEOC v. Shipley Do-Nuts.)
What are Pregnant Women’s Rights on the Job?
The PDA states that companies may not discriminate against employees on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. That includes terms and conditions related to:
In addition, it’s generally illegal for companies to require pregnant women, or those suspected of being pregnant, to provide medical documentation that wouldn’t be required for similarly situated non-pregnant employees.
Can a Pregnant Woman be Forced to Take Leave?
Women may generally not be forced to take leave from their jobs as long as they are able to perform the essential tasks of their position.
However, if a pregnant woman is in a job that may require her to do physical tasks that she’s unable to perform, that woman may be eligible to qualify for a light-duty assignment, a job accommodation, or unpaid leave – but that all depends on the employer’s rules for temporary disability.
For example, an employer may allow temporarily disabled staffers to take unpaid leave, and then return to their regular positions within a given amount of time. Those companies generally must extend the same consideration to women who are temporarily disabled by pregnancy or related conditions, such as gestational diabetes.
If an employer does not allow leave for temporarily disabled employees, it generally does not have to allow leave for pregnant women who are temporarily unable to perform their jobs either.
Contact the Murphy Law Group Now for a Free Consultation
Obviously, the circumstances surrounding every pregnancy are different. A woman’s job responsibilities and company policies can further complicate how pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions are handled on the job.
If you believe that your rights under the PDA have been compromised, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.