Imagine this situation. A 20-something woman gets a new job as a legal assistant at an all-male law firm. She's happy to have the work because it's at a well-paying, prestigious firm with great health benefits. But several weeks later, she gets the surprise of her life: She's pregnant.
The young woman is terrified because now she needs her new job more than ever, and she doesn't know what will happen when she tells the boss. "Will he fire me?" she worries.
Pregnant women are protected from discrimination
Powerful federal laws protect women from on-the-job discrimination after they become pregnant:
The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978: This law is incorporated into the Civil Rights Act of 1974. It applies to companies with 15-plus employees, preventing them from discriminating against pregnant individuals. Under the PDA, employers may not deny employment, promotions raises or treat with inequality a woman who is pregnant.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993: This act also protects pregnant women by ensuring that they have a job to return to following a 12-week period of guaranteed leave. Women, and men, may take this unpaid time off when a new baby comes into their lives through adoption or pregnancy and employers with 50-plus employees must reserve an equal-level position for their return.
What about North Carolina state law?
North Carolina does not have a state-level law that requires employers to give their employees pregnancy leave. However, North Carolina does have a law that protects pregnant women from discrimination:
The North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act: This act prevents a host of discriminatory practices by employers, and it also prevents discrimination due to pregnancy. Employers must treat pregnant employees who become pregnant in the same way as other employees who are dealing with temporary disability.
Although it is not a just way of looking at pregnancy, the law in North Carolina views the state of being pregnant in the same way as it does temporary disability.
Are you pregnant and trying to protect your job?
Learn about your employment rights as a pregnant worker. The more you know, the more power you will have to protect and stand up for your rights if an employer tries to discriminate against you.