The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 protects pregnant women by stating that employers must treat pregnancy as a temporary disability, and they may not refuse to hire a woman or fire her because she is pregnant or compel her to take maternity leave.
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 built upon the rights granted under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. This act applies to employers of 50 or more employees, and permits up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child; the serious medical condition of a parent, spouse, or child; and the worker’s own serious medical condition that prevents the worker from performing the essential functions of his or her job.
Except for highly paid positions, individuals must be given back their former positions or one fully equivalent. Employees are eligible for family or medical leave after working for 12 months or at least 1,250 hours. Part-time employees are eligible for such leaves as these numbers average 24 hours a week.