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Morning sickness in the workplace

For companies that have a minimum of 15 workers, employers must abide by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act. These laws offer many protections to pregnant women, including that bosses cannot fire them for getting pregnant. The laws also state that employers must provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women while at work. 

Morning sickness is a natural part of being pregnant. A woman who is dealing with this condition may feel the urge to go to the bathroom frequently. Employers must allow women to go to the bathroom to handle any pregnancy-related issues. An employer is unable to fire a woman or reprimand her for taking more bathroom breaks than anyone else. 

Employers can provide accommodations

Morning sickness affects all women differently. Some women may need to vomit once and feel fine while others will feel nauseated for an extended period of time and cannot do anything until the sensation subsides. There are various accommodations employers can provide based on what is best for the woman and what is best for the company. 

As an example, the employer can provide the woman with a modified work schedule. Perhaps everyone else works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the woman feels nauseated around 8 a.m. on a regular basis. The employer can allow the woman to come into work at 9 a.m. and work until 6 p.m. This is reasonable for both parties and does not punish the woman because she still receives the same number of hours a day.

Employees can use sick leave

For employers, it may be beneficial to remind an employee she has sick leave she can use any time she wants. In the months leading up to a birth, a woman may simply not feel well enough to even go to work, and she should be able to use her sick leave. As long as she is able to perform all work-related tasks, an employer cannot force a woman to begin maternity leave before she is comfortable doing so. 

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