Are there no rights for pregnant women of small businesses?

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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.
 


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