Pregnancy discrimination

Under federal law, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) prohibits discrimination against pregnant workers. Under the PDA, an employer who allows workers with temporary disabilities to take extended medical leaves of absence must also provide the same opportunity to pregnant employees. An employer may not force a pregnant employee to remain on medical leave until they give birth or prohibit them from returning until a certain period of time elapses following child birth.   An employer may also no institute work place policies that solely affect the working conditions of pregnant workers.

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Other federal laws may also provide protections to pregnant workers. For example, in certain circumstances, the Americans with Disabilities Act may impose a duty on an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee’s pregnancy related medical condition. The Family and Medical Leave Act entitles qualifying pregnant workers to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave in order to care for newborns or newly adopted children and protects their job while they are out.

State law also prohibits discrimination against pregnant workers, and in some instances, provide greater protection to pregnant workers. In Maryland, for example, the Maryland Pregnancy Discrimination Act mandates that employers provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees suffering from pregnancy related medical conditions. Under the D.C. Human Rights Act, woman have the right to breastfeed and employers are required to provide reasonable break periods to enable a woman to breast feed and to make an effort to provide a clean and private area for a mother to pump