Your employer shouldn’t deny, reduce or stop workers’ compensation benefits because you are pregnant.
A positive pregnancy test can send a woman down a whirlwind of emotions. You feel equally excited and terrified. A human being is growing inside you and it almost seems surreal. You realize that your life is about to change and that you need to start accommodating your new condition.
What if you become pregnant while you are receiving workers compensation benefits? Or if you get injured while performing your job. Can pregnancy affect your case?
Here’s what you need to know.
Your Rights as a Pregnant Employee
While companies aren’t required by the law to keep employees in positions they can’t perform, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and Americans with Disability Act (ADA) protect women from pregnancy-related discrimination or harassment. As such, your employer cannot fire you if you are pregnant, have been pregnant, plan on having a child or develop a pregnancy-related condition, such as preeclampsia.
Your employer generally has to accommodate your condition and provide modified equipment, work hours, and so on. Moreover, according to the Family and Medical Leave Act, you are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
Will Being Pregnant Affect My Workers Compensation Claim?
Pregnant women are a vulnerable group and an easy target. A lot of employers see pregnancy as an inconvenience and a business loss. Fortunately, federal laws ensure that pregnant women are protected from discrimination and harassment.
As such, your worker’s compensation claim generally can’t be denied or reduced because you are pregnant. Whether you get injured on the job or develop a pregnancy-related condition that forces you to take time away from work, you are entitled to the same benefits as your colleagues. Just to be on the safe side, it is an excellent idea to get a St. Louis workers compensation lawyer on your side and ask for their help.
If you need accommodation, you should notify your managers as quickly as possible. You may need proof from your doctor, so be ready to provide any needed medical file.
What If I Get Pregnant While Receiving Benefits?
Finding out that you are pregnant while recovering from a work injury should not affect your worker’s compensation benefits. Your doctor will inform your employer and insurance company about your medical evolution. If the pregnancy impacts your recovery and you need more time away from work, your doctor will notify your employer.
Potential Hazards Pregnant Workers Face
Pregnant workers are more susceptible to injury because of their bodies’ physical changes during pregnancy. The extra weight they carry can strain their backs, and the hormones released during pregnancy can sometimes make them dizzy and lightheaded. That said, here are some specific examples of potential hazards pregnant workers face:
1. Exposure to Toxic Substances
Exposure to toxic substances is one of the biggest dangers that pregnant workers face. Pregnant women are more sensitive to toxins than non-pregnant women, and exposure to these substances can cause birth defects and other health problems. Some of the most common toxic substances that pregnant workers are exposed to include Benzene, Lead, Asbestos, Toluene, and Xylene.
2. Repetitive Motion
Another hazard that pregnant workers face is repetitive motion. Repetitive motion can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, which can be very painful. It can also lead to premature labor.
3. Lifting Heavy Objects
Pregnant women should avoid lifting heavy objects whenever possible. Lifting heavy objects can cause back pain, neck pain, and other injuries. It can also lead to premature labor and low birth weight babies.
4. Standing for Long Periods
Over 50% of all workplace activities across different industries involve standing for long periods. However, this can be dangerous for pregnant workers. Standing can cause blood to pool in the legs, leading to swelling and varicose veins. It can also cause discomfort, back pain, and sciatica.
5. Working Long Hours
Working long hours is another common hazard that pregnant workers face. Working long hours can lead to fatigue, making it difficult to concentrate. It can also lead to back pain and other musculoskeletal problems.
6. Wearing High Heels
Some occupations require women to wear high heels. However, wearing high heels can be a hazard for pregnant workers and can cause back pain and other musculoskeletal problems. It can also lead to falls and injuries.
What Can Employers Do to Improve Safety for Pregnant Workers?
There are several things that employers can do to improve the safety of pregnant workers. Some of these include:
Making Accommodations: Employers should make accommodations for pregnant workers. Some of these accommodations include providing ergonomic furniture, allowing employees to take breaks more often, and providing special parking spots for pregnant workers.
Providing Protective Gear: Employers should provide pregnant workers with necessary protective gear. This may include gloves, masks, and safety glasses.
Creating a Policy: Employers should create a policy on how to protect pregnant workers. This policy should include all the accommodations the employer is willing to make.
In addition to these things, employers should also ensure that they comply with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination against pregnant workers. This includes firing, demoting, or refusing to hire a pregnant worker.
Always Speak with an Experienced Attorney
Your employer shouldn’t deny, reduce or stop workers compensation benefits because you are pregnant. If they do so, they may be breaking the law and you may have a solid case against them.
A skilled St. Louis work injury attorney can educate you on your rights, analyze your case, and make sure that you receive proper compensation. Give us a call today at (314) 361-4300 to schedule a FREE case evaluation.