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Pregnancy Discrimination and Your Rights at Work

February 4, 2022 Pregnancy Discrimination

Under the PDA, ADA, and FMLA

When you’re pregnant, you have the right to certain protections at work. However, pregnancy discrimination is still a real problem in the United States.

Despite the fact that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act has been in place since 1978, studies show that approximately 250,000 women are denied accommodations they are entitled to in pregnancy every year. 

Your Rights Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act states that any employer with 15 or more employees is barred from discriminating against pregnant employees. Discriminatory actions may include (but are not limited to):

  • Keeping you from accessing training opportunities
  • Withholding a promotion or job assignment
  • Reducing your pay, firing you, or laying you off
  • Changing your hours to less optimal hours
  • Preventing you from accessing leave you’re entitled to
  • Preventing you from accessing health insurance or other benefits

Under the PDA, your employer is required to treat you the same way it does employees who are not pregnant, and who have a temporary disability: they have to provide a reasonable accommodation for your health condition.

For instance, if other employees with disabilities are given reasonable accommodations such as a customized ergonomic desk and chair; a light-duty work option; or a change in schedule to accommodate doctors’ appointments, then it must offer the same to you.

The Supreme Court has held that the employer doesn’t have to accommodate employees who are pregnant the same way they accommodate non-pregnant employees with disabilities; but if they don’t, they have to demonstrate a sound, non-discriminatory reason for treating pregnant and non-pregnant employees differently.

Your Rights Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Under the ADA, pregnancy by itself is not categorized as a disability—so pregnant employees are not entitled to reasonable accommodations under the ADA as they are under the PDA.

However, some pregnancy-related health conditions, such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia, are classified as disabilities and fall under the protections of the ADA.

Your Rights Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Under the FMLA, employers with 50 or more workers must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to employees who qualify. This includes pregnant employees with a medical reason to need time off—such as severe and persistent morning sickness, pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, and so on. 

Under the FMLA, you are also entitled to use your 12-week allotment of days off in small periods to accommodate prenatal doctor’s appointments and medical treatments—you don’t have to take your leave all at once.

Questions About Pregnancy Accommodations? Talk to an Employment Attorney

If you believe your employer is denying you leave you’re entitled to, you should speak with a knowledgeable Pennsylvania employment attorney.

Your attorney can determine what accommodations and leave your employer owes you, and help you gain the compensation you’re entitled to.

Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today.

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.