Now that you have learned the joyous news that you are pregnant, you might start to wonder how that will affect your employment. All pregnant women, as well as those who are breastfeeding, have specific rights when it comes to working.

Knowing your rights can help you know what to expect as you venture through your pregnancy and new motherhood. If your employer isn’t abiding by these laws, you can take action against them to remedy the situation.

Federal law forbids pregnancy discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination, which includes passing over a pregnant woman for a promotion or raise, refusing to hire her or giving her a lay-off, is forbidden by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. In each of these cases, the action taken by the employer must be because of your pregnancy. If your employer isn’t aware of the pregnancy, discrimination can’t occur. You must be provided equal access to all benefits, including health insurance, that a non-pregnant worker in the same position would be given.

Pregnant women can be considered temporarily disabled

If you are unable to do the job duties that are assigned to you, you can be considered temporarily disabled. Your employer will then need to treat you in the same manner as any other worker who is temporarily disabled.

In some cases, your condition might qualify you for protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Your employer must make reasonable accommodations to enable you to continue working. Examples of conditions that could require protections include sciatica, which might necessitate a weight limit for lifting, or gestational diabetes, which might require time to test blood sugar or eat a small snack.

Maternity leave might be required

Typically, an employer may have to provide a woman who has given birth 12 weeks of unpaid time off if she meets the conditions specified under the Family and Medical Leave Act. This act stipulates that you must have worked for the employer for 12 months and have put in a specific number of hours. There are other conditions, such as having a certain number of employees, that an employer must meet to be compelled to abide by this act.

Breastfeeding women have rights

In Oklahoma, breastfeeding women have rights under acts that became law in 2004, 2006 and 2010. While at work, these mothers must have a private place to express milk or pump and a reasonable time to do so.

Employers must have somewhere other than a bathroom for you to pump. The accommodations for breastfeeding mothers only protect mothers for the first year of the child’s life, so if you decide on extended breastfeeding, you won’t have those protections.