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Federal laws may help you balance your job with your family responsibilities. Nationwide legal protections may provide you with a right to take family leave from work, or protect you from pregnancy discrimination.

Federal laws apply across the country regardless of where you live. Keep in mind, that federal law is a “floor” and not a “ceiling”— meaning that while states cannot reduce or eliminate the protections you have under federal laws, they can usually pass laws that are more generous. For example, although federal law applies in both California and Alabama, only California has passed laws that give working parents additional protections such as a right to paid leave, making it a much friendlier state for working parents.

Unfortunately, not all federal laws apply to all workers. For example, to be eligible for protection against disability or pregnancy discrimination under federal law, you have to work at a company with at least 15 employees. To be eligible for the federal right to take job-protected parental leave, you must have worked for your employer for at least twelve months, among other requirements. Again, these laws do not forbid a state or individual company from providing workers with additional rights, so a state could make it illegal for employers of all sizes to discriminate.

The federal laws we will discuss include the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects against sex discrimination, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

We have incorporated these federal laws into each state specific page, to make your life easier! Simply find your state and you will find all the information you need in one place. 

Pregnant or parenting while working? Learn about laws in your state that can help:

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