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May I be forced to take leave due to a pregnancy?

An employer may not force a pregnant employee to take leave if the employee is able to perform her jobs duties while pregnant.

May I be fired for other purported reasons while I am pregnant?

You can absolutely be terminated or during pregnancy for other unrelated reasons. If an employee is stealing while pregnant the employer is not going to have too difficult a time demonstrating that the pregnancy wasn't the reason for the dismissal. It is always a concern for employers who are terminating someone who falls within a protected class whether it's pregnancy, religious minority, or someone who is otherwise covered by an anti-discrimination law on employment. It always is and should be a legitimate consideration about whether the basis for the termination is truly based on some act or failure to act by employee as opposed to a prohibited characteristic. They would fire a non-pregnant employee for doing the same thing then it is clear that Discrimination Act is not going to step in and say, “You get to keep your job as soon as you're pregnant.” That's not how it works.

May my employer require a doctor’s note for any leaves I might take during the pregnancy?

If your employer requires a doctor's notes for any absence from the office then they can also require it for procedures due to your pregnancy. For example, if you were absent from the office to get an ultrasound then yes a doctor's note indicating that you were in fact obtaining medical treatment during that time is permissible. If an employer requires a doctor's note for any type of extended leave from the office, such as medical leave based on bed rest or another condition. If you had cancer and you needed to provide a note indicating that you need a certain time off to obtain chemotherapy treatments. If an employer generally requires a doctor's notes for absences from the office or to demonstrate that a person is fit for duty then they can do that.

The employer can do that on the same terms as it does with non-pregnant employees and that typically comes up in scenarios where you've got someone who's engaged in a very physical type of job such as a police officer, a position that requires the use of a ladder, or things of that nature just to demonstrate that the person is fit for duty. If there's a legitimate question about that, if the pregnant employee has demonstrated no inability to continue their jobs duties, then singling someone out for special justification for their desire to continue working is not acceptable. However, if the pregnant employee is requesting changes to their duties or a lighter duty then an employer is permitted to request a doctor's note.

Are men protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act if their partners are pregnant?

No. men are not protected by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act on behalf of their partners.

May an employer ask me if I intend to become pregnant at an interview?

There's no prohibition on asking a prospective employee if they intend to become pregnant. However, from an employer's perspective it is unwise to ask an employee a question about pregnancy status. That would reasonably be construed by the employee as playing into the employer's decision about whether or not to hire or promote the person. It is best not to ask such questions but the mere fact that a person was asked the question in an interview is not going to be enough to prove that pregnancy discrimination occurred. The information has to be taken into account when making the hiring decision in order to be actionable.

May I be retaliated against for reporting pregnancy discrimination?

Like all acts regarding discrimination in the workplace the pregnancy discrimination act prohibits retaliation for engaging in the protected conduct or opposing what an employee reasonably believes to be discrimination. However, it is not uncommon for employees who have reported misconduct in the office to be retaliated against. In many cases it's easier to prove that the retaliation for opposing protected or prohibited conduct took place than proving the underlying conduct itself.

For more information on Forcible Leave During Pregnancy, please call our office today at (216) 578-1700 and speak with one of our intake specialists, or fill out our online contact form..

Related Practice Areas
Sexual HarassmentSex/gender DiscriminationPregnancy Discrimination

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