When one of your employees becomes pregnant, you may have some concerns about whether she will be able to continue performing her job duties and if she’ll continue as an employee after the baby is born. It might seem easier and more beneficial to the business just to let the employee go, especially if complications arise during the pregnancy. However, there are laws in Texas that protect pregnant employees from discrimination and wrongful termination. It is usually in your company’s best interests to take the needs of your pregnant employee into consideration and attempt to reach a resolution that benefits all.
According to the Texas Workforce Commission’s page on pregnancy rights, if you have more than 15 employees in your company, pregnant employees are protected by federal and state laws regarding pregnancy and discrimination. This includes the Family and Medical Leave Act if there are more than 50 employees in the business. Terminating a pregnant employee without reasonable cause could result in an unemployment claim or unfavorable business litigation.
What if the employee develops a pregnancy complication, such as gestational diabetes, or if she says she is unable to perform certain work-related duties due to her pregnancy? In this case, disability laws may come into effect. You would be expected to make reasonable accommodations that don’t cause your business undue hardship, such as redirecting her work responsibilities and allowing her to take a reasonable amount of time off for maternity leave.
However, you have the right to ask your employee to provide medical documentation that she won’t be able to perform certain tasks, such as staying on her feet for a certain period of time or lifting objects. You can also ask an employee to periodically check in during an extended maternity leave. If the length of time the employee is out of work begins to adversely affect your business, you may have the right to lay off the employee. It is always a good idea to do so in a friendly manner, letting her know that when she is ready, she can return to work at your company if a position is available.
This information can help you understand your rights regarding pregnant employees, but is not intended as legal advice.