California Family Rights Act
Discrimination in the Workplace: What New Moms Should Know 
Discrimination in the Workplace: What New Moms Should Know 

Discrimination in the Workplace: What New Moms Should Know 

New moms face considerable challenges that go beyond the immense work involved in raising a happy and healthy little one. Returning to work can be especially daunting – and it is not unheard of for new mothers to face workplace discrimination related to both their pregnancy and their return to work after giving birth. Any employee who believes this may apply to them is advised to seek the skilled legal guidance of an experienced San Francisco workplace discrimination attorney

Working while Pregnant

In workplaces that have five or more employees, pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable pregnancy accommodations, which can include all the following:

  • Allowing time off for prenatal appointments
  • Allowing additional breaks throughout the day
  • Changing the pregnant employee’s work to light duty or to a safer position
  • Ensuring the pregnant employee has help with lifting and manual labor

To obtain pregnancy accommodations in California, a doctor’s recommendation regarding the needed changes should suffice. Further, if a doctor declares an employee disabled by pregnancy, employers are required to provide up to four months of pregnancy disability leave, which involves unpaid but job-protected leave and ongoing health insurance. 

There are also federal protections in place that flow from the Americans with Disabilities Act, which makes it illegal in this country for employers with at least 15 employees to discriminate against disabled employees, and pregnancy-related conditions like the following qualify as disabilities under the act:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Preeclampsia 

The protections include:

  • An employee cannot be harassed or refused a promotion due to a pregnancy-related disability.
  • An employee with a pregnancy-related disability cannot be refused the reasonable work accommodations needed to remain healthy and do their job. 

Pregnancy itself is not classified as a disability, but related conditions can be, which makes consulting with a knowledgeable workplace discrimination attorney well-advised. 

Returning to Work

Returning to work after having a baby can put new mothers in challenging positions related to all the following:

  • Needing work breaks to pump breast milk
  • Needing time off to take their infants for scheduled checkups  
  • Needing time off to care for their infants when they are sick 

Everyone’s experience upon returning to work after childbirth is unique, but when employers fail to accommodate employees in accordance with the law, new mothers have legal recourse. 

Paid Leave

California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) law affords new moms up to six weeks of partially paid time off for bonding with their new infants within the first year of birth, adoption, or placement through foster care. It’s important to note that while PFL provides financial assistance, it does not afford job protection, which can be established through other sources, such as California Family Rights Act (CFRA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), or the pregnancy disability leave under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).     

An Experienced San Francisco Workplace Discrimination Attorney Can Help

The dedicated San Francisco workplace discrimination attorneys at Minnis & Smallets focus their practice on skillfully upholding the workplace rights of all employees, including new moms. To learn more about how we can help, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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