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Rights of pregnant women in the Rhode Island workplace

On Behalf of | May 9, 2023 | Workplace Discrimination

Finding out that you’re pregnant is one of the most exciting times in most people’s lives. But unfortunately, many women in Rhode Island face workplace discrimination based on their pregnancy. These instances of discrimination violate both state and federal employment laws.

What is pregnancy discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination is a term that refers to the termination or mistreatment of an employee or applicant based on her pregnancy. This form of discrimination at work also applies to employees or applicants who plan to become pregnant. Employers cannot refuse employment, terminate employment, or retaliate against any applicant or employee based on pregnancy status.

Examples of pregnancy discrimination

Per a study published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), thousands of women nationwide file pregnancy discrimination claims against businesses each year. There are several ways that expectant mothers face discrimination including:

  • Not getting a job because of pregnancy
  • Requiring pregnant employees to perform dangerous tasks
  • Failing to give an employee her position back after her maternity leave
  • Treating pregnant employees differently than those who aren’t pregnant
  • Withholding benefits based on an employee’s pregnancy status

What does the law say?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 changed the language in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The new act made it illegal for employers with at least 15 employees to discriminate based on pregnancy. According to the 1978 ruling, pregnancy gets treated the same as any other type of temporary disability in the workplace.

These laws allow employees time off when dealing with morning sickness, physician-ordered bed rest, childbirth and any other condition about the employee’s pregnancy. This law protects full-time and part-time employees.

Pregnancy is one of the most joyous times in the lives of millions of people. Thanks to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, employees can focus on their health and the health of their unborn child.