Protections for Pregnant Employees in Michigan

As any mom can tell you, simply existing as a pregnant person, much less working a full-time job, can be utterly exhausting. Fortunately, there are several laws (both federal and state) that offer some protections for pregnant employees in Michigan. We’ll go over these protections, as well as some workplace rights you have after you’ve given birth. 

Federal and State Pregnancy Discrimination Laws

Under federal law, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA”), pregnancy was recognized as a protected class under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Essentially, the PDA prohibits employers with at least 15 employees from discriminating against either current employees or job candidates on the basis of pregnancy. Similarly, under Michigan law, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act extends those same federal protections to employees regardless of the size of the company.

What are those protections? For job candidates, they may not be denied a position due to pregnancy. In addition, current employees may not be fired, be demoted, or receive a drop in hours, pay, or benefits due to pregnancy. 

Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”)

The FMLA provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave to employees dealing with certain medical conditions or caring for someone with qualified medical and family reasons. Pregnancy is generally considered to be a qualifying reason. Specifically, the FMLA provides 12 weeks of paid leave for “the birth of a child, for prenatal care and incapacity related to pregnancy, and for [the mother’s] own serious health condition following the birth of a child.” Unfortunately, the FMLA doesn’t apply to everyone. Only employers with 50 or more employees are subject to this federal law, and employees must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months.

Break Time for Nursing Mothers

Employees (who work for employers with at least 50 employees) are afforded protections if they have the need to express breastmilk during the workday. These employees, up to one year after the birth of a child, have the right to express milk in a private room that is not a bathroom. These protections come from a 2010 amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act and apply to hourly workers. 

Conclusion

Your life does not have to stop just because you are pregnant or recently gave birth to a child. Many employees in Michigan have a handful of legal protections, but that does not mean that every employer follows and respects these laws. If you suspect your rights are being violated, our firm wants to hear about it. Your first consultation with us is free; contact us here to set up a meeting.