Before a worker becomes pregnant, they should take the time to learn about their rights regarding maternity leave and the use of company-provided health benefits for pregnancy and childbirth-related medical needs.
At the federal level, employers in the United States are not required to provide paid maternity leave to their employees. However, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 permits all covered employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Four states require employers to provide their employees with paid maternity leave. New Jersey is one of these states. In New Jersey, new mothers can take up to six weeks of leave at 66 percent of their regular salaries.
Rights Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) grants employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to attend to their own medical needs as well as their immediate family members’ needs. This includes pregnancy and childbirth.
Upon returning from FMLA leave, workers must be able to return to their original positions or comparable positions. While on leave, workers must continue to receive the healthcare benefits they received while working. If an employee chooses not to return to work after their 12 weeks are over, the employer has the right to require them to repay the healthcare premiums spent during the leave.
Pregnancy Discrimination as Defined in the Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include pregnancy as a protected class. Because of this law, it is illegal to fire an employee for being pregnant.
Other rights granted by this law include:
- Pregnant employees can work as long as they are able to perform their jobs
- An employee cannot be passed over for promotion or denied fringe benefits while on maternity leave
- Employers cannot discriminate against applicants because they are pregnant or could potentially become pregnant while employed
- Pregnant employees cannot be forced to go on maternity leave
- Pregnancy and related conditions must be treated equally to all other health conditions under the employer’s health insurance policy. For example, if an employee is temporarily unable to work because of pregnancy complications, these must be treated the same as other short-term disabilities
- Pregnant workers can receive reasonable accommodations, such as modified schedules and less time standing while at work, to enable them to continue to perform their job duties
- Employers cannot create rules that keep employees from returning to work after their children are born. Further, their positions must be held for them for the same length of time as positions held for employees on sick or disability leave.
South Jersey Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Mothers and Fathers Affected by Pregnancy Discrimination
Women are not the only people who can face pregnancy discrimination in the workplace – men whose covered wives are denied benefits related to their pregnancy and childbirth needs and fathers who are denied their FMLA rights are also pregnancy discrimination victims. If you experience pregnancy discrimination, fill out our online form or call 215-569-1999 to schedule your initial consultation with our team of South Jersey pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Our office is in Philadelphia and we work with clients from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York.