The COVID-19 pandemic has presented some major challenges for both employees and employers. Many employers have been forced to offer accommodation to pregnant employees. The other option is changing the workplace to accommodate the needs of the employees.
If you’re pregnant, you’re at a high risk of being hospitalized because of COVID-19 compared to other women of the same age group who aren’t pregnant. In most instances, the baby won’t be affected since the chances of the virus crossing the mother’s uterus are low. Nonetheless, different questions revolve around the transmission of coronavirus. If you’re pregnant and hesitant about going to work because of the pandemic, you’re justified to stay at home. You can go ahead and consult an attorney who deals with pregnancy discrimination cases if your employer isn’t as understanding.
COVID-19 poses a threat to pregnant women since the virus will reduce their lung capacity. When you’re pregnant, your immune defenses will also be lowered, which means that pregnant women will be vulnerable to complications such as infections. If you’re pregnant, you’ll be afraid of attending work since you’re trying to protect your baby.
There are local, state, and federal laws that usually forbid employment discrimination. The federal law usually prohibits discrimination against pregnant women at the workplace. The law applies to a workplace that has more than 15 employees. Under the city and state laws, a pregnant woman is entitled to reasonable accommodation.
What are the Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Women?
Reasonable accommodation means making some changes to the work environment or the work policies such that an employee can carry on with their duties at ease. If you’re pregnant, you’re entitled to reasonable accommodation at your workplace. Some reasonable accommodations include leave for medical needs, an altered work schedule, light-duty assignments, transfers away from dangerous tasks, and increased breaks to rest. If you’re afraid of contracting COVID-19, reasonable accommodation could be being allowed to work from home. Keep in mind your employer is not obligated to offer the reasonable accommodation you’ve requested.
You can also request unpaid leave. If the leave is pregnancy-related, you can come back to the workplace later and proceed with your duties as an employee. The employer is not supposed to ask you to stay on leave until the child is born. Your job needs to be held similarly to an employee who had taken leave for another reason.
Under city laws, an employer who has at least four employees should provide reasonable accommodation for pregnant employees and people with medical conditions so that they can come back to work while also ensuring their health is in check. The employees can have time off to allow them to recover from matters such as childbirth.
The employer is supposed to treat you similarly to a person who has temporary disabilities. There should be no retaliation against pregnant women who have requested reasonable accommodation; you shouldn’t face punitive responses for requesting pregnancy accommodation amid the pandemic. You can sue for pregnancy retaliation or discrimination if your employer issues punitive responses.