Can a pregnant woman leave early if she is sick?

If a waitress in the state of Georgia is pregnant and starts having stomach pains
at work and feels like she might vomit, should be allowed to go home early. She
has gone to work everyday, even when she doesn’t feel like it. Her employer does
not allow any breaks during her 8-hour shift except to go to the bathroom. Can’t
she expect to have at least a 15-minute break during the day or at least the
ability to go home if she is not feeling well?

Asked on April 22, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unless this employee can cover her absences with PTO (sick days or vacation time) or leave under the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), then she can be made to come in and stay at work. Further, if she leaves without permission, she then can face disciplinary action up to and including termination. Basically, as an "at will" worker, her employeer can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. This all holds true unless she has protection of some sort under the terms of a union agreement or employment contract. Also, her treatment must not be due to any form of legally actionable discrimination. For examle, if other sick employees can leave but she cannot based solely on the fact that she is pregnant, that would be illegal, otherwise not allowing her to go home is perfectly permissable. As for rest breaks during her shift, under GA law neither a rest or meal break is required to be provdied by an employer.


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