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Fighting pregnancy discrimination: Pregnancy is protected by law

When you got pregnant, you wanted to tell all your coworkers. You've never had a problem, and you thought everyone would be happy for you. For the most part, everyone was.

After your announcement, you suddenly began to notice that your work load was changing. Your employer insists he's reducing the work he's giving you to make things easier, but you think he's penalizing you since you'll soon have to take maternity leave.

Pregnancy is protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

The PDA makes it illegal to discriminate against pregnant women. These women must be treated the same as other employees so long as they can perform the required functions of their jobs. The PDA does not allow for discrimination in any aspect of a job whether that includes raises, job assignments, layoffs, fringe benefits or other terms of employment.

In the case that you are pregnant and take leave for a period of time, you may return to work before giving birth. It's not legal for your employer to require you to take leave from one point until the point of giving birth. Additionally, once you give birth, your employer must hold your job open for the same length of time as for any other employee who takes temporary disability or is sick and unable to work.

The Family and Medical Leave Act, made in 1993, may give new parents the right to take up to 12 weeks off work to take care of a new child. The child does not have to have been birthed by the parent, so this act also applies to adoption or foster care. The FMLA doesn't always apply, so it's a good idea to understand your legal rights before taking off an extended period of time from work.

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