All the statements are false, or at best are true only some of the time. Here are the explanations:
A. If a pregnant woman comes to work late, I can terminate her legally for failing to adhere to our attendance policy. False. If a pregnant woman is coming to work late because of a medical issue, such as morning sickness, she may be entitled to have her hours shifted as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She may also be entitled to take intermittent leave if she is eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. In addition, she can be terminated for late arrivals only if you have a policy that says late arrival is a ground for termination and you have consistently enforced that policy with respect to all employees, pregnant and not.
B. If a pregnant woman works in a dangerous area of our company, I can transfer her to a different job. False. You cannot transfer a woman because she is pregnant, unless she asks to be transferred. It is up to the employee and her medical care provider to determine what is best for her at work, and then to work it out with you. But she has to be the one to instigate the transfer.
C. If a pregnant woman can’t do her job because of pregnancy complications, she has to go out on leave. False. Since 2009, when the amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act became effective, many pregnancy-related conditions are disabilities under the law and employers must provide reasonable accommodations that will allow a pregnant employee to keep working despite her condition, as long as providing the reasonable accommodation will not create an undue hardship for your company. Examples of reasonable accommodations are providing lifting assistance, giving an employee to take extra breaks to eat or rest or use the bathroom, letting an employee do her work sitting down if she normally stands, and allowing her to work flexible hours. Leave can be a reasonable accommodation as well, but usually only as a last resort if there is no other accommodation that will allow the employee to continue to work. If the employee does not want to go out on leave, you may find yourself facing a lawsuit with several claims in it if you force her to take leave.
D. If a pregnant woman uses up all of her leave before she has her baby, I can terminate her lawfully. Not always. If a pregnant employee is on leave as a reasonable accommodation for a pregnancy-related condition that constitutes a disability under the ADA, you may be required to allow her to remain on leave even if she has exhausted her FMLA leave and whatever leave she is entitled to under your company’s policies. You do not have to give her indefinite, open-ended leave, but if her medical care provider has certified that it is expected that she will be able to return to work in the foreseeable future if she has more time off of work so she can heal, then you cannot terminate her without risking a lawsuit.
E. When an employee tells me she is pregnant, the first thing I should do is ask her for a doctor’s note saying what work she can do. False. You cannot treat pregnant employees differently from nonpregnant employees. If the pregnant employee has not told you that she is unable to perform some or all of her tasks because of her physical or mental condition, or otherwise given you an indication that she has a disability, you cannot ask her to obtain a doctor’s note.
Knowing the law is the first step toward preventing costly lawsuits. Contact us to learn how we can quickly and painlessly train your company about pregnancy and the law.