Pregnancy and Employment Under Illinois Law
This fact sheet provides an overview of the Illinois law that protects your rights on the job when you are pregnant, plus information on where you can go for help. Download the PDF version of this fact sheet. See other fact sheets on workplace rights.
As of January 1, 2015 no pregnant worker in Illinois should have to choose between having a healthy pregnancy and her job.
Know Your Rights
It is illegal for an employer with one employee or more to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to provide a temporary accommodation because a woman:
- is pregnant,
- is recovering from childbirth, or
- has a medical or common
- condition relating to pregnancy or childbirth.
Employers have to allow employees who are pregnant or new mothers to adjust their work life with what is called a “reasonable accommodation.” This could include:
- bathroom breaks,
- breaks for rest or water,
- help with manual labor or lifting items,
- a chair to sit on,
- private space for pumping breast milk,
- temporary change to duties, schedule, or work environment,
- time off for medical appointments or medical leave.
The employer does not have to provide an accommodation if it causes them an “undue hardship,” such as being prohibitively expensive or disruptive.
An employer may not force an employee:
- to take a leave she does not want when another reasonable accommodation is available,
- to accept an accommodation she does not want.
Notice And Enforcement
Employers must post a Notice about this law where notices to employees are customarily posted.
The Notice, prepared by the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) that enforces this law, can be found in English and Spanish at https://www2.illinois.gov/dhr/Publications/pages/pregnancy_rights_notice_requirement.aspx.
The Notice provides IDHR contact information, and a form for filing a charge with them—which must be filed within 180 days of the action that violated this law.
For More Information
If your employer punishes you for being pregnant, or refuses to give you a reasonable accommodation, you can share your story with us and we may be able to assist you.
Common conditions of a healthy pregnancy are those that do not rise out of a medical diagnosis, such as needing more bathroom and water breaks.