Are there no rights for pregnant women of small businesses?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Are there no rights for pregnant women of small businesses?

I work for a real estate brokerage as a full-time marketing director. There is only one other full time employee excluding our owner. There are more than 22 real estate agents that work with and under our brokerage but I’m sure they’re considered independent contractors. Our boss told us if either of us hot pregnant he would fire us I was rightly offended though I don’t plan to be pregnant. He stated as a small business he has no obligations to allow workers to come back or take any leave. Upon some research of my own, it looks like this is actually very legal for him to do. Say it ain’t so….

Asked on February 17, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No, your employer is wrong. Both federal and state law prohibit discrimination against women and discrimination based on disabilities, including temporary disabilities. Firing women because they are preganant can be seen as discrimination against women, and/or as illegal disability-based discrimination, because pregnancy is treated as a temporary disability for this purpose. So if you are fired for this reason, speak to the federal EEOC, your state's civil/equal rights agency, and/or a private attorney about a lawsuit.
There are limitations to this protection: you can't be fired for *being* pregnant, but if as a result of your pregnancy, you miss work or cannot perform your job (and if you miss work, do not cover the absences with PTO you have earned, like sick or vacation days), you can be terminated due to the unauthorized absences or because of the inability to do the job. This is legal because it is not termination due to your "status" but rather due to job-performance or -attendence issues.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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