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Can job hazards justify pregnancy discrimination in Michigan?

There are various legal protections in place in Michigan to address workplace discrimination against a woman who is pregnant. However, there are areas of nuance that might not be clearly covered by the law or fully known by women. One such nuance arises when there is a hazard in the workplace that can potentially put the fetus in danger. Pregnant women in this situation need to know their legal rights.

Women of childbearing age who are exposed to hazardous substances at work need to be aware of this issue. The employer is responsible for keeping employees informed as to the possibility they can be put at risk by chemicals or other conditions that are present in the workplace. This is especially relevant if the employer knows that there are risks to a pregnant woman or her baby.

If there are potential health dangers, the employer is not allowed to reassign or terminate the female employee because of them. This would be discrimination. It is not up to the employer to decide whether a pregnant employee will be safe or not in performing certain jobs. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the safety of a fetus is a decision for the parents and, if necessary, the lawmaking authorities.

Those who have been confronted with pregnancy discrimination in the workplace may have grounds to bring a legal action and recover monetary damages and injunctive relief. Speaking to an experienced employment law attorney can be the first step in asserting one's legal rights.

Source: Michigan.gov, "Pregnancy in the Workplace -- Workplace Hazards to the Fetus," accessed on May 10, 2016

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