Pregnancy Leave Laws

Employment Discrimination Attorneys Advising Clients in Atlanta

When a child is born, the mother will generally need to take some time off. The mother’s employer must find a way to manage its business operations during the employee’s absence. There is, therefore, a natural conflict between the needs of the employee and the employer, but federal law provides employees with certain rights regarding leave. If you have a legal issue involving pregnancy leave, the employment discrimination lawyers at Mays & Kerr can help you. We have counseled both employers and employees in the Atlanta area.

Pregnancy Leave

In a survey of employees by the Department of Labor, 13% of the employees surveyed reported taking leave that would qualify under the Family and Medical Leave Act in the past year. Of those employees, 21% took the leave related to pregnancy or a new child. Pregnancy and childbirth therefore account for a significant percentage of the leave that is taken by employees.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

Pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers with more than 15 employees may not discriminate based on sex. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA”) amended Title VII to include pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions in the prohibition on sex-based discrimination. Women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition must be treated the same as other employees who are similarly qualified.

A pregnant employee is entitled to sick leave following the same procedures as other employees. Although pregnancy is not itself necessarily a disability, a pregnant woman may be disabled during her pregnancy or following childbirth. An employee who is disabled as a result of pregnancy or childbirth must be allowed the same type of leave, alternative assignments, or other accommodations that would be granted to any other temporarily disabled employee. If the impairments meet the qualifications of a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the employer must meet the requirements of the ADA.

An employee may not file a lawsuit based on a violation of Title VII or the ADA without first filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The employee generally has 180 days from the discrimination to file the charge.

Federal Regulations

29 C.F.R. § 1604.10 requires that disabilities caused by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions are treated the same as other disabilities under the employer’s insurance or leave plans. Additionally, leave, seniority accrual, benefits, reinstatement, and payment under health and disability insurance or sick leave policies and procedures must apply to pregnancy and childbirth-related disabilities under the same terms and conditions as those applied to other disabilities.

Family and Medical Leave Act

Employees may take leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) for a number of reasons, including for a child’s birth, for bonding with the child within the first year after birth, for a serious health condition that has rendered the employee unable to work, and to care for a spouse with a serious health condition. An employee, therefore, may be entitled to leave based upon her own condition during pregnancy, based upon the birth of the child, or based upon bonding with the child. It is important to note that leave under the FMLA is not limited to the mother, so the father may also be entitled to take leave for similar reasons. Leave is also allowed for the adoption or placement of a foster child.

The FMLA applies to local, state, and federal government agencies, the public school system, and private-sector employers with more than 50 employees. It may not apply to small private-sector employers.

To qualify for FMLA, the employee must work for an employer covered by FMLA at a location with at least 50 employees within 75 miles. The employee must have been employed for at least two months by the employer and have worked for 1,250 hours for the employer during the preceding 12 months, not including vacation time or other paid time off.

When applicable, the FMLA allows the employee up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, during which time the employee’s group health insurance will be maintained under the same conditions that would apply if he or she were not on leave. Furthermore, the employee’s job or an equivalent job must be available to the employee upon his or her return. The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor is responsible for enforcing the FMLA.

Seek Guidance on an Employment Law Matter from an Atlanta Lawyer

If you have a legal issue involving pregnancy leave, the employment law attorneys at Mays & Kerr have the experience to advise you on your rights and obligations. Our clients have come from Atlanta and other communities throughout Fulton County and the rest of Georgia. Call 1-877-986-5529 or contact us online to set up an appointment.