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Federal law protects pregnant women from workplace discrimination

Many women these days in Tennessee are waiting longer to have children so they can concentrate on their careers. However, whether a pregnancy comes when a person is a new employee or after they have become established in the workforce, most women who find themselves pregnant are overjoyed. But, while they may be eagerly awaiting their new arrival, their employer may be concerned on how the pregnancy will affect the woman's ability to work and the company's bottom line. Such situations can sometimes result in workplace discrimination.

However, per the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers with 15 or more employees cannot discriminate against women because they are pregnant. In general, employers must offer all workers the same benefits, whether the worker is pregnant or not. In addition, if due to her pregnancy or childbirth the worker must be given accommodations or take leave from work, she must be allowed to do so in the same manner that any other temporarily disabled worker would.

In addition, employers cannot refuse a woman a promotion or fire her due to her pregnancy or due to her ability to get pregnant. If a pregnant woman wants to continue working and is physically able to do so, her employer cannot forbid her from doing so. Also, employers must hold a position open should the woman need to take time off work due to pregnancy and childbirth in the same manner that a position would be held open for any other worker who takes sick days or disability leave.

This is only a brief overview of some tenants of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. There are aspects of the Act not covered in this post that provide women with further protections in the workplace. For a fuller understanding of the Act and how it applies to women in Tennessee, it may be necessary to seek professional guidance on the matter.

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