You and your partner planned so carefully to have everything in place for this new child; the baby room is done, you have a financial plan to get her through college, and your leave of absence is scheduled. Unfortunately, some employers have a different idea. Some bosses discriminate against women due to their pregnancy. This is called pregnancy discrimination. This webpage covers the following topics in detail:
- What is the definition of pregnancy discrimination?
- The federal and California pregnancy discrimination acts
- What can a lawyer recover for you?
- What should pregnant employees do to prepare?
What is the Definition Pregnancy Discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination happens in various ways. It is when a pregnant employee, or one who plans on being pregnant, is discriminated against by the employer because of the status of pregnancy or her desire to be pregnant one day. If you talk to a pregnancy discrimination lawyer, he or she can give you a variety of examples of how this plays out:
- Refusing to hire a pregnant applicant because of her pregnancy
- Denying the pregnant employee a promotion or scheduled pay increase
- Not letting an employee take time off of work for medical check-ups
- Terminating an employee because of her pregnancy
- Not allowing the pregnant employee to take leave due to a pregnancy disability
- Not providing the pregnant employee with reasonable accommodations to perform job duties
- Acting on negative employment decisions because of the employee’s pregnancy
- Giving the pregnant employee less hours
- Demoting the employee
- Trying to get the pregnant employee to quit
The California & Federal Protections
Pregnancy discrimination is illegal under the federal and California pregnancy discrimination acts (see below). There is a lot more to these acts; it’s highly recommended that you consult with a pregnancy discrimination lawyer to understand and answer the following:
- Which employers and employees are covered by the law?
- Which act do you qualify for pregnancy leave under?
- Can you take leave under multiple acts concurrently or in addition to one another?
Pregnancy discrimination lawyers know these laws well and can help make sure that you are getting the pregnancy leave that you are due. If any pregnancy discrimination has occurred, the lawyers can also inform you of it and help you in making your next move.
California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
The California FEHA has a pregnancy discrimination act that is applicable to employers who have 5 or more employees. This law has two substantial provisions. The fist can be found in CA Governmental Code § 12940(a) which says it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against anyone due to their sex. Sex is defined as including pregnancy. This is CA’s main pregnancy discrimination law.
California: Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDL)
The second tenant of this law is PDL. This law allows female employees to take up to 4 months of unpaid maternity leave if she is disabled from: pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. It says that employers have to grant female employees leave (up to 4 months), in these scenarios:
- When she is disabled because of pregnancy
- When she is disabled because of childbirth
- When she has a medical condition that is related to the pregnancy or the childbirth
California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
CFRA allows a female employee to take up to 12 weeks per year of family care and/or medical leave including time off for bonding with the child after giving birth to, adopting or fostering a new child. The employee is allowed to take these 12 weeks after having taken up to 4 months of pregnancy disability leave – giving a total of seven months of maternity leave. It should be noted that not all employers are eligible to be covered under this act.
Federal: Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is an amendment to the federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act protects discrimination based on:
- Related medical conditions
Employers must treat these employees the same way as they treat other employees who are in the same condition; this means that they cannot single out pregnant employees. The PDA emphasizes the equal treatment of pregnant employees to other employees who are similarly disabled.
An employer that let’s temporarily disabled employees go on disability leave or unpaid leave, must also let a pregnant employee take disability leave or unpaid leave due to temporary disability due to her pregnancy. A covered leave requires that the employer holds the job position open for the employee to come back to and cannot stop the employee from coming back to her job when she is ready, even if it is before the return date.
Federal: Family Medical and Leave Act of 1993
Under this pregnancy discrimination act, a new parent is eligible to take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks, unpaid. FMLA defines a new parent as biological, foster, or adoptive. To read more about what the federal pregnancy discrimination act covers, go to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website. If you would like to read about recent pregnancy cases, the EEOC has compiled a list containing some here.
What Can Be Recovered by a Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer?
Hiring a lawyer is essential if you feel like you were discriminated against. Pregnancy discrimination lawyers will spearhead your case and craft your case to remedy the following types of wrongs.
- Placement in a job (if not hired because of discrimination)
- Back pay and benefits
- Compensatory damages
- Punitive damages
- Pregnancy discrimination lawyers’ fees
- Expert witness fees
- Court costs
Our record breaking pregnancy discrimination lawyers have vase trial experience in court. Contact our office for a consultation.
What to Do as an Employee Who is Pregnant or Thinking About Becoming Pregnant
There are precautionary steps that you can take in order to protect yourself against being a victim of pregnancy discrimination:
- If you are or planning on being pregnant, educate yourself on these laws
- Make sure that your job description is written down and up to date
- Know your employer’s pregnancy leave policy – commonly found in the employee handbook
- Let your employer know that you are pregnant when the time comes, so that your employer can approve of intermittent leave for morning sickness, medical checkups, and any other medical conditions related to the pregnancy
Avoid being discriminated against at work because of your pregnancy. It is your right to:
- Still be in the running for a promotion if you are eligible
- Be hired for a job even if you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, presuming that you are the best candidate for the position
- Receive maternity leave under federal or state laws that you qualify for
- To be treated equally to other employees
- Have a job to come back to after a covered pregnancy leave
This is a joyful time that should stay that way if you knowing your rights and ensure that your employer complies with the laws. If you are being discriminated against, call our law office for a consultation with one of our experienced employment lawyers.