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Can You Be Denied a Job if You're Pregnant? Everything You Need to Know

Can You Be Denied a Job if You're Pregnant?


You might be wondering if it's illegal to deny someone a job because they are pregnant. The answer is yes—it is against the law for employers to discriminate against women based on their pregnancy. It's also illegal for employers to refuse to hire someone because she's pregnant, fire her because she is pregnant, or deny her a promotion because of her pregnancy.


What makes this particularly tricky is that many jobs require physical strength, stamina and agility. For example, if you want to work in construction or heavy labor like landscaping or roofing repair, it would make sense that your boss would want someone who can lift heavy items without getting injured or sick due to his/her own physical limitations resulting from carrying around an extra 20 pounds (and then some). Yes: being overweight can cause problems when lifting things!


Now let’s say you get hired at this company and you're doing your job well but suddenly get very sick while pregnant with twins—you may not be able to handle working as hard as before without risking injury or exhaustion from carrying around all those extra pounds so now what?


What are your rights as a pregnant job seeker?


As a pregnant job seeker, you have certain rights. The Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibits discrimination against female employees on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. This means that your employer cannot fire you because you're pregnant or prevent you from taking time off to get an abortion (if you choose to do so). They also can't force you to take unpaid leave if other employees in similar situations are allowed paid leave.


The act also requires employers to provide women with light duty assignments if they request them during their pregnancies. This could include reassigning them to less physically strenuous tasks or allowing them more frequent breaks than other employees who aren't pregnant—as long as the accommodation doesn't create an undue hardship for the business or require excessive expense for your employer.*

  • Note: If there are no accommodations available that would allow an employee to perform their job safely while still accommodating their medical needs, then under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), they may be able to receive reasonable accommodation such as reassignment within the company or transfer between locations with comparable responsibilities; this would require approval from management first though!

Can an employer find out that you’re pregnant if you don’t tell them?


You should never be forced to tell your boss about a pregnancy, but you can also be fired for not telling them. If you decide to keep the pregnancy quiet, it's possible that the news could come out anyway. Some employers may try and find out if you're pregnant before you tell them, by asking you to take a pregnancy test or requesting medical records from previous employers that might mention it—so always keep copies of documents with sensitive information!


In the U.S., it is illegal for an employer to deny a job to someone who is pregnant. Pregnancy discrimination laws protect you from being denied work because of your pregnancy, as well as from being fired or treated differently because of it.


However, an employer can still refuse to hire someone who’s pregnant if they have a valid reason—such as company policy or needing all employees to be able to lift heavy objects—and there was no way around this requirement except by hiring someone else who wasn’t pregnant.


What is considered pregnancy discrimination under the law?


Discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions is illegal. It's unlawful for employers of 15 or more employees to discriminate against you because of your pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act applies to all aspects of employment including hiring and firing; job assignments and promotions; benefits such as leave policies; and any other term or condition of employment.

In addition to being illegal, terminating an employee due to their pregnancy could also be considered wrongful discharge or discrimination if the reasons for the termination don't meet certain legal standards.


Who does the law protect from pregnancy discrimination?


You may be expecting to hear that the law protects only women from pregnancy discrimination. But you'd be wrong! The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) protects all these people, too:

  • Women

  • Pregnant women

  • Women who have given birth

  • Women who are breastfeeding

Are some types of pregnancy discrimination against the law?


If you're pregnant, and an employer discriminates against you because of your pregnancy, then that's against the law.

  • You can't be fired or demoted because of your pregnancy.

  • Most employers are not allowed to refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant.

  • If an employee needs time off work because of her pregnancy, the employer must give her this time off unless there is some kind of medical reason why they can't do so. (For example, if the job requires heavy lifting.) The same goes for unpaid leave after childbirth or adoption: employers must grant it unless there's a good reason not too; again this would usually be determined by medical evidence provided by doctors on both sides.*

How can I get help if I believe I have been discriminated against because of my pregnancy during a job interview or on the job?


If you believe that you've been discriminated against because of your pregnancy during a job interview or on the job, contact the EEOC. It's illegal for employers to discriminate against workers based on their sex or pregnancy status. The EEOC will investigate and help resolve claims of discrimination through its administrative enforcement procedures or by filing a lawsuit in federal court. You can also seek out an attorney who can assist with litigation.


Pregnancy discrimination is illegal, and no woman should have to worry about being denied a position because she is expecting.


  • Report the discrimination to your local EEOC office.

  • You can also file a complaint with the EEOC online.

  • If you feel that the discrimination is severe enough, you can file another complaint with your state's civil rights agency or fair employment practices agency.


In addition to the laws that protect you from being denied employment because of your pregnancy, it’s important to remember that you have a right to be treated with dignity and respect by your employer. If you feel that your rights under the law are being violated, contact an attorney who can advise you on how best to proceed.

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