Pregnant workers are protected in the workplace under Florida and federal law. Employees and employers alike should be familiar with these prohibitions against pregnancy discrimination.
Size of the company
Employers with greater than 15 employees are prohibited from discriminating against pregnant employees. This means that employees are protected from their employers discriminating against them in hiring, firing, job assignments, promotions, training, compensation and benefits. Employers may not legally take action against employees in these categories simply because of the pregnancy or a medical condition related to childbirth.
As applied, these prohibitions make it illegal for employers to refuse to hire an employee or fire an employee because of pregnancy. They also cannot cut the employee’s hours or assign her less desirable hours or a less desirable job because of pregnancy. Employers also cannot make the assumption that a pregnant employee will be less committed to their work. If an employee is physically able to perform the work, an employer cannot prevent them from doing it because of pregnancy. For instance, an employer cannot legally prohibit an employee from traveling to attend a work conference because of their pregnancy.
Pregnant women who need some type of accommodation at work must ask for it. Employers are not required to provide accommodation for a pregnant worker if they are not already providing a similar accommodation to other workers. However, pregnant workers must be treated the way other temporarily disabled workers are treated. Asking for an accommodation — even one as simple as extra rest breaks or a more comfortable chair — may require a doctor’s note.
Employment law can protect both employers and employees. It helps employers ensure they are in compliance with the law and protects employees when they believe they have been discriminated against. Both employers and employees should familiarize themselves with the laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination.