What is pregnancy discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of childbirth, pregnancy, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.

If a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer or other covered entity must treat her in the same way as it treats any other temporarily disabled employee.

It is unlawful to harass a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment. It is also illegal when harassment results in an adverse employment decision.

What’s an example of an adverse employment decision?

Being fired or demoted.

Do I have to tell potential employers I’m pregnant?

That is your personal decision. You can choose to tell your employer or keep the information to yourself. Either way, they cannot refuse to hire you because of your pregnancy-related condition as long as you are able to perform the major functions of your job.

What if I am not pregnant but about to become a new parent?

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, a new parent (including foster and adoptive parents) may be eligible for 12 weeks of leave (unpaid or paid if the employee has earned or accrued it) that may be used for care of the new child. In most cases, to be eligible, the employee must have worked for the employer for 12 months prior to taking the leave and the employer must have a specified number of employees.

What are some examples of things my employer should provide?

Every case varies; however, your employer has the ability to provide light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave to pregnant employees if it does so for other temporarily disabled employees.

What if I am past pregnancy but still nursing?

Pregnant employees may have additional rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor. Nursing mothers may also have the right to express milk in the workplace under a provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Does it matter who my harasser is?

No, who the harasser is does not change the situation. The harasser can be your supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

I was pregnant, but am no longer pregnant, and need time off to recover. Am I covered by the law?

If you are temporarily physically or mentally disabled by the loss of your pregnancy through, for example, miscarriage or abortion, you would be legally covered to the extent that your employer covers other temporary physical or mental disabilities.

For example, if other temporarily disabled workers at your company are not entitled to leave or benefits, then neither are women who are or were pregnant. Nothing in Title VII requires an employer to provide disability leave or benefits.

Can men take pregnancy leaves?

Under the FMLA fathers may take pregnancy related leave pre, or post-birth if they are the caregiver for a mother who has a serious pregnancy related condition. Fathers can also take job-protected parental leave under FMLA after a baby is born or adopted.

Additionally, parental leave must be provided to similarly situated men and women on the same terms. So, if your employer provides paid parental leave to mothers, not related to any medical complication, then it must provide the same leave to fathers, or be subject to suit for sex discrimination.

Our Role is to Hold Your Employer Accountable

The Nelson Law Group fights for individuals who are subject to discrimination across Tennessee. If you believe you have a claim, call us at 865-383-1053 and let us help you get all the work benefits you deserve!

We hope you found this description helpful. We encourage you to go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website,, for more general information about the enforcement of federal laws related to your employment.