Understand pregnancy and breastfeeding rights in the workplace

Pregnancy and breastfeeding rights in the workplace aren't usually thought about until someone is faced with the need to learn about them. These rights play an important part in job stability for the women who need to call them into the picture.

If you are a pregnant woman or are returning to the workplace, you need to learn about your rights. This helps ensures that they are all respected throughout your journey into motherhood.

Importance of these protections

The protections of the federal laws governing pregnancy and breastfeeding discrimination are important because they don't force a woman to choose between her career and her family. They also provide a legal basis for pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding to take action if an employer does handle situations in an illegal manner.

Pregnancy as a disability

Many conditions that a woman can suffer from during pregnancy can require her to need special accommodations. Conditions like preeclampsia, hypertension, diabetes and more are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

When a pregnant woman is unable to perform her work-related duties due to restrictions placed by her doctor, the employer needs to provide accommodations that allow her to continue working unless this would cause an undue hardship on the business. Accommodations that can't be met might lead to the woman needing to take time off work under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The FMLA provides workers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they meet specific requirements. Upon returning to work, the person should be given one's same job or a comparable one.

Breastfeeding rights

A woman who is breastfeeding her baby must be given a place and opportunity to pump milk for the child during the work day. The Fair Labor Standards Act provides protections for nursing mothers. Under Section 7 of this act, women can pump for up to one year after the child is born. Employers have to provide a private and sanitary place that isn't in the bathroom for the woman to pump. Missouri doesn't have state-specific laws about pumping breastmilk at work, so breastfeeding mothers must rely on federal protections.

Any woman who is discriminated or retaliated against due to pregnancy or nursing should find out what options she has to get the issue addressed. These might include speaking to the employer or filing a formal complaint. The goal of these cases is to correct illegal behaviors and prevent future issues from occurring.

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