Pregnancy and Disabilities

Pregnancy and Disabilites

A pregnant woman

An employer cannot terminate you for getting pregnant, cannot refuse to give you a reasonable period of maternity leave, and cannot force you to take maternity leave for an unreasonable period of

time.  Your employer must treat maternity leave the same way it treats other illnesses.  As a general rule, when you return to work from pregnancy leave, you must be put back in your original job or in an equivalent position with equivalent pay and accumulated seniority.  If you think you have been discriminated against because of a pregnancy, contact the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, the Alaska State Human Rights Commission, or the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission at the phone numbers or websites listed above.

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (often called the ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified persons with disabilities who work or want to work for them, unless the employer would experience undue hardship as a result.  Generally, this means an employer must change the work environment or the way things are customarily done so that the person with a disability can have the same job opportunities as others and can perform the essential functions of the job.

If you decide to ask for an accommodation, you can simply let the employer know you need a change due to a medical condition.  You do not need to specifically mention the ADA.  However, the employer does not necessarily have to make the change you ask for. Your request is the first step in an informal process between you and the employer, who may ask you questions to help understand your needs.  The employer may ask for reasonable documentation from your medical provider about your disability, the limits to work you can do, and any accommodation that you ask for.  The employer also can suggest different accommodations or argue against those you propose.  But the employer cannot refuse a reasonable accommodation unless it can show that providing it would be an undue hardship.