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Protecting pregnant employees leads to trouble

    Should it be an employer's decision whether a job is too dangerous for a pregnant employee?

    The National Law Journal writes that employers are landing in hot water for keeping pregnant employees out of hazardous areas. Most recently, employers in Texas and California settled lawsuits that claimed they wrongfully prohibited pregnant employees from working in certain areas. In both cases, employers claimed they were just trying to do the right thing; the employees claimed discrimination.

    One case involved a California nurse who was barred from working in a hospital lab because of possible radiation exposure. The other involved a Texas veterinarian technician who was reassigned to a different job at an animal clinic to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals

    Management-side attorneys say their well-intentioned clients are in a tough spot: Protect a pregnant worker and risk a discrimination lawsuit, or let her work in a hazardous area and risk a tort claim should a child be born with a defect.

    "It's the woman's job and the woman's pregnancy and the woman's decision of what choices she's going to make," said attorney Elizabeth Grossman, who works in the New York office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and handles pregnancy discrimination suits.

    David Long-Daniels of Greenberg Traurig advises employers to thoroughly discuss with pregnant employees the risks of working certain jobs. If the risks are high, he advises offering another job. For the worker who insists on keeping a certain job, he advises offering them leave with pay.

   "It will at least limit the damages," Long-Daniels said, stressing that, in the end, "I think you side on protecting the fetus. You have to be very careful about it."

< I feel like most mothers want to protect their unborn child and should be able to decide for themselves if a job presents risks.  Who do you think should make the call -- the pregnant employee or her boss? Do you think employers lose either way?