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Now that I'm pregnant, am I going to lose my job?

While you may be delightedly anticipating the birth of your child, you may also have concerns about how your employer will react to the news of your pregnancy. You may have worked for years to earn the position you now hold and dread the thought of your boss demoting or firing you because of your condition.

You may be relieved to know that Ohio law prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because you are pregnant. However, there are stipulations and limitations to the protection the law allows.

How does the law protect me?

Ohio law says that your boss may not fire you based on your sex, and pregnancy is part of the law's definition of sex. You may also ask your boss to allow special accommodations during your pregnancy. For example, you may need to use the bathroom more frequently or to avoid prolonged periods of standing or sitting. State law says you may request reasonable accommodations, but your employer does not have to agree to anything that others would consider preferential treatment.

In addition to state law, the Family Medical Leave Act allows you up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for the birth of your child without fear of losing your position. FMLA applies to you under these circumstances:

  • The company you work for employs more than 50 people.
  • You have worked at that company for at least 12 months.
  • You have worked at that company for at least 1,250 hours.

If FMLA does not apply to your situation, the state requires your employer to have a reasonable policy for a leave of absence for childbirth. Refusing to allow you time off to have your baby may be considered an act of sexual discrimination.

What if I feel like my boss is treating me unfairly?

To prove that your boss discriminated against you because of your pregnancy, you must show that your employer was more favorable to a co-worker in a similar position. This could mean that the other employee received a pay raise or opportunities for advancement, or that your boss reprimanded or demoted you for behaviors other workers did with impunity.

As you proceed through the next few months, you may encounter situations at work that make you uncomfortable or suspicious that your employer is treating you unfairly simply because of your pregnancy. When this occurs, asking the advice of an employment law attorney will help you discern if you have a discrimination claim. Following a lawyer's advice, you may be able to resolve the issue amicably. However, your attorney can counsel and represent you if the matter goes to litigation.

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