North Carolina employment law protects pregnant workers

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | employment law |

Your North Carolina employer may hire and fire people at will. However, your employer cannot single you out because of a specific characteristic and discriminate against you because of it. For example, your employer cannot deny you a promotion available to all workers in your department simply because you are younger (or older) than the rest of the team. Similarly, if you are pregnant, employment law protects you against discrimination in the workplace.  

If you were to suffer an injury or illness that temporarily prevents you from doing your job, your employer can give you unpaid leave during recovery. During pregnancy, you might experience various health conditions that prevent you from being able to work. Your employer cannot fire you because you are pregnant. Instead, you must receive the same benefits that workers with injuries or health conditions receive.  

Pregnancy Discrimination Act 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 amended the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). Title VII protects workers against discrimination due to pregnancy in the workplace. Whether you are currently pregnant, might become pregnant in the future or have been pregnant in the past, your employer cannot discriminate against you because of it.  

In addition to Title VII, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to compensate for the limitations a worker might experience due to pregnancy. This requirement remains in effect unless your requested accommodation places undue hardship on your employer.  

Do you have a disability related to pregnancy? 

If you have a condition known as gestational diabetes or suffer from another secondary condition caused by pregnancy, you have protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the workplace. In this case, a disability is an impairment brought on by pregnancy.  

Under the ADA, as a pregnant worker, you have a right to any accommodation that other employees with disabilities would receive. Your employer must keep medical records and legal documents associated with your condition in a separate and private medical file.  

Work-related issues regarding pregnancy discrimination 

Protection against pregnancy discrimination in a North Carolina workplace begins before your employer hires you.  During the application process, a prospective employer cannot refuse to consider your application simply because you are pregnant. Beyond that, protection of pregnant workers carries over to issues regarding pay, promotions, job assignments, training, benefits and termination, as well as many other topics.  

If you have received harassment or discrimination against in a North Carolina workplace because of pregnancy, state employment law provides recourse for you to seek justice. An employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a complaint. In fact, any form of threat, retaliation or abuse would be an additional civil rights violation.