Pregnancy should be a very exciting time. But during the pandemic, it can be very challenging for employees. Workplace discrimination is threatening the livelihoods of families across the country as some business owners are, unfortunately, violating employee rights to keep making profits.
Workplace discrimination is a complex subject during “normal” times — and even more complicated during a pandemic. Do you have questions about pregnancy discrimination? We are here to help.
What Rights Do I Have to Protect Me from Workplace Discrimination?
Pregnant workers have two federal laws that were in place before the pandemic that could offer some protection from discrimination in the workplace:
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act
- Americans with Disabilities Act
These federal laws apply to employers that have at least 15 or more staff and require employers to give reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers, as well as those who are not pregnant. In the context of Covid-19 and risk, many women have asked to either telecommute, if possible, or reduce risk on the job by limiting contact with other people, including customers.
If you have gestational diabetes or other underlying condition related to pregnancy, this could also be covered under the ADA to be able to receive reasonable accommodations at work and protect you from workplace discrimination such as demotions, reductions in pay, or even firing or forcing you to quit during a pandemic.
Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not have the information yet to say that pregnant women are more likely to be seriously ill with Covid-19, it is true that pregnant women have a higher risk to get seriously ill with other types of viral respiratory infections such as the flu. The CDC does have recommendations to protect you and your family if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for young children.
What Kind of Accommodations Could I Ask For?
In this unprecedented time, it is reasonable to be scared about going to work. But your employee rights include being able to ask for the “reasonable accommodations” that are detailed in the federal laws mentioned above.
Some of these requests could include:
- Avoiding contact with the public
- Having an isolated place to perform your duties
- Additional protective gear such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer
- Temporarily changing your role in the workplace
Depending on the type of job, some of these may be possible, and some may not. Know that it is your right to make the request. Follow your company protocols regarding the chain of command. Go to your immediate supervisor first. If this does not work, then go to your human resources department. Let them know your commitment to your job and how important keeping your job is to you and your family.
If your requests are refused, unemployment assistance may be eligible. Florida workers can check the latest information regarding unemployment insurance here. In addition, The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees you 12 weeks of (unpaid) leave, though most women choose to take that after the baby is born.
Tackling the Complexities of Workplace Discrimination During the Pandemic
In these confusing, scary times, know that Wenzel Fenton Cabassa P.A. is here for you. We have been standing up for workplace rights for Florida workers for many years and have helped thousands of people across the state get justice.
We are highly knowledgeable about employment law and new legislation that has been approved during the pandemic that affects employers and employees. When families are suffering due to pregnancy discrimination or workplace discrimination of any kind, we fight hard for your rights and stand up to powerful employers.
In these particularly complex times, it is increasingly important to have experts in employment law on your side.
If you believe you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination during the pandemic, contact us, and we will discuss the details of your situation. You may have a legitimate case against your employer, and we are here to help you and your family during this difficult time.
Pregnant women have a right to their careers, just like anyone else and should be treated fairly and equally to everyone else.