Lis and the Single Girl: Could Getting Pregnant Cost You Your Job?

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Single and fabulous? Well then this is the column for you!

Ever wish you had your own personal Carrie Bradshaw to answer your questions — not just about what to do if your boyfriend dumps you via text message — but serious issues that confront us? This special daily edition of “Lis on Law” will address topics that single women are faced and that everybody wonders about — but no one has time to figure out.

Between work, working out, dating and maintaining a social life, it’s tough to find time to do much else. So, read up and prepare to be fully armed for brunch this weekend with your friends with some super conversation topics! Your pals will be amazed!

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I never thought it could happen to me, but I’m pregnant and on my own. I want to have the baby but scared that I’ll lose my job, what can I do?

You should have the right to get pregnant, but not get screwed. I always say pregnancy is a “super-ability,” not a disability — but sadly, it’s not often treated that way. We get pregnant, and our laws and employers render us guilty of the charge of working motherhood. As pregnant women in the United States, our rights are limited, but we do have some protections.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . This act says that discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII.

So what does that mean? The PDA protects a woman’s position in the workforce if she gets pregnant. Pregnant women must be treated in the same manner as other employees with similar abilities or limitations. So, if an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job due to pregnancy, the employer must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. I know, it’s a lovely sentiment to be treated like you have a disability — to be given as many allowances for our pregnancies as the guy in shipping who broke his foot at the company bowling outing, but that’s the current state of our law.

In addition, Title VII states that it’s a woman’s right to decide how long she can safely perform her job and requires employers to treat pregnant women no differently than they treat other “temporarily disabled” employees, for example, by providing modified tasks.

How long are we allowed to stay home? Again, unfortunately employers view motherhood as a quick trip to the hospital with the expectation that we’ll be ready for work very soon — maybe not the following day or week, but not long afterwards. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act only goes as far as our employer allows someone to stay home after a heart attack or broken leg.

Bottom Line — your job must be held open for your employer can’t fire you for being pregnant. And remember it’s a “super-ability.” As one woman said to me, “I had a baby, not a lobotomy!”

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• Facts About Pregnancy Discrimination

• Pregnancy Discrimination

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Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. She is currently a professor of law at the New York Law School. Wiehl received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1983 and received her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland in 1985. In addition, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987. Lis is also the author of The 51% Minority — How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It. (Watch the Video) To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.