Can Employers Ask Questions About Intended Pregnancies?

Legal protections in the workplace have come a long way from previous decades, but some employers still run afoul of employee protection laws, including those regarding pregnancy. Civil rights attorneys in San Jose, CA can offer employment law advice to employees who think they may have been discriminated against based on a protected class, such as pregnancy. pregnant - woman

Asking About Pregnancies and Intended Pregnancies

It is not within an employer’s rights to ask about an employee’s intentions to become pregnant, or about whether she is currently pregnant. Employees have every right to consult a labor rights lawyer if they are asked this question. Likewise, employers may not ask job candidates about their intentions toward parenthood, nor can they base a hiring decision on whether a job candidate intends to become pregnant or is pregnant.

Disclosing a Pregnancy Status

Women often choose to give their employers a heads up when they are expecting to use maternity leave soon. However, not every new mother will take multiple weeks off. Women are within their rights to work up to their due date, and then take vacation time for the delivery and recovery period. Women who aren’t yet expecting, but intend to become pregnant, can use time off for doctor’s appointments and infertility treatments in accordance with the company’s policy.

Requesting Leave

Women who plan to take maternity leave given by the company—or time off requested under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)—must give reasonable notice of the leave. Not every employee is eligible for FMLA. Those who do are lawfully allowed to take up to 12 weeks of leave within a 12-month period for family or medical reasons, such as the birth of a child. FMLA leave is unpaid. At the end of the leave, employers are legally required to restore the employee’s previous position, or an equivalent position that offers the same benefits and wages.

Requesting Reasonable Accommodations

It’s possible for a pregnant woman to be unable to carry out certain job duties due to the conditions of pregnancy. During the last few weeks, for example, she may not be cleared by a doctor to take a business trip. There may also be restrictions on heavy lifting. Although employers cannot ask about pregnancies or intended pregnancies, they should be given reasonable notice about any accommodations the employee needs.

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