Under state and federal laws, pregnancy must be treated like any other temporary disability. A pregnant woman cannot be fired, refused employment, required to take leave or treated differently as long as she can perform her job duties adequately. If other employees are given special accommodation when disabled, so must a pregnant employee be given such accommodation.
An employee cannot be forced to return to work before she is medically able. Likewise, an employer does not have to extend leave longer than medically necessary, unless such benefits are given to other temporarily disabled employees. In other words, whatever policy/practice an employer has regarding temporary disabilities must be the same policy/practice applied to pregnant employees.
Treatment of pregnant employees is one of the concepts most often misunderstood by employers. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) fact sheet on pregnancy discrimination gives an explanation of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Employers should also be aware that employees also have rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1991.
The information provided on this website should in no way be considered legal advice. For specific information about your legal rights, you should consult your personal attorney. If you have a general question, contact us.
South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation
Division of Labor and Management
700 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501