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The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) protects women against discrimination because they’re about to have a baby. But the PDA doesn’t grant any special, additional rights to time off for child care.

Unless the mother has FMLA or other leave available, there’s no requirement for an employer to accommodate her child care needs.

Recent case: Heather Seibert worked for Lutron Electronics in its technical assistance department. She had a spotty attendance record because of bouts with depression. When she requested FMLA leave to get treatment, Lutron agreed.

Seibert eventually returned to work, but when depression symptoms recurred, she began taking intermittent FMLA leave.

Then she became pregnant with twins. Eventually, she used up all her FMLA entitlement. Lutron supervisors warned Seibert that continuing to miss work would be a problem. However, once the babies were born, she continued to miss work, usually when one or both twins were ill and needed care.

Lutron told her she could either resign or be fired for absenteeism. Seibert chose to resign.

Then she sued, alleging the company violated the PDA when it refused to let her care for the newborns when they needed her. She argued that she had been singled out and forced to use vacation time to care for the children.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the PDA didn’t cover post-pregnancy leave for child care or illnesses. Without FMLA or other sick time, she was out of luck until she had earned more. (Seibert v. Lutron Electronics, No. 10-1091, 3rd Cir., 2010)

Final note: Seibert also couldn’t claim that she had suffered discrimination because of a disability. The court concluded that her depression was periodic and temporary and therefore not a disability under the ADA.

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