Congratulations, you’re pregnant. Whether this is your first child, or a younger sibling, it is an exciting time for all involved. In addition to your other responsibilities, you will have to balance your personal life, your growing family and work. Often times, women like you are worried what their boss will say when you deliver the news. Companies can be resistant to disruption and your pregnancy, and any maternity leave, will likely change things. Before sharing the good news with your employer, it is important to know your legal rights.
Anti-Discrimination Protection: Both federal law and Ohio law prohibit employers from discriminating against pregnant women. This discrimination can take various forms. Examples of obvious and blatant discrimination are termination, demotion or a reduction in pay or hours. Often times, discrimination is less obvious. Employers may assign you different tasks, may assign you tasks beyond your doctor’s prescribed restrictions or may attempt to make work more difficult trying to get you to quit. Many, if not all, of these behaviors are unlawful and it is very important to know your rights.
Time Off: Currently, there is no federal or state guarantee for paid time off from work for pregnancy or delivery. However, federal law allows for employees of certain size companies, who have met a minimum pre-leave work requirement, up to twelve (12) weeks unpaid leave for pregnancy and recovery. If you meet the necessary eligibility criteria, you may also be entitled to occasional time off during the pregnancy, as your medical condition dictates. During your time off under this law, your employer must hold your job open for your return, but they are not obligated to pay you. These rights are separate and distinct from any vacation or paid time off you may have with your employer, however, they often work in conjunction.
Paid Maternity leave: If you are lucky enough to work for an employer who offers paid maternity leave (either full or partial) you are, sadly, in the minority. However, many companies have Short Term Disability policies that cover pregnancy. To avoid an increase in premiums, your employer may misrepresent the terms of the policy to prevent you from receiving benefits to which you are entitled. However, the decision to apply for and receive the benefits is yours, not your employer’s.
Overall, pregnancy is both very exciting and possibly scary all at once. Because of the many different laws that apply to pregnant women, and new mothers, fully understanding your legal rights is important for you, your baby and your family. The employment lawyers at Minnillo & Jenkins have decades of combined experience representing pregnant women, and new mothers, to navigate these employment hurdles. Please do not hesitate to contact the firm should you feel your rights have been violated, or if you are simply seeking guidance with these complicated issues. We are here to help.
Written content provided by Robb S. Stokar