Discrimination |
September 24, 2019

What Are My Employment Rights if I Am or Become Pregnant?

Employees who are considering becoming pregnant or who are pregnant often have concerns about how a possible pregnancy may affect their employment. Fortunately, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as well as California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Pregnancy Disability Leave law (PDL), and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), provide protections for employees who are or who become pregnant. When an employer violates a pregnant employee’s rights, the law allows the employee to take legal action to recover for certain losses.

Protections against Discrimination

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed in 1978, and the law prohibits employers from engaging in sex discrimination on the basis of: 

  • Past pregnancy
  • Current pregnancy 
  • The potential for a future pregnancy
  • Medical issues stemming from pregnancy
  • Past or potential abortions

Unlawful discrimination under the law can include: 

  • Questioning a job applicant about pregnancy or the likelihood of a pregnancy
  • Refusing to hire a pregnant woman or a woman who might become pregnant
  • Allowing an employee to be harassed for pregnancy-related reasons
  • Denying a pregnant woman a deserved promotion or pay increase for pregnancy-related reasons
  • Transferring a pregnant woman to a less desirable position for pregnancy-related reasons
  • Terminating a woman’s employment because of pregnancy or potential pregnancy

Employees have the right to be free from all of the above forms of pregnancy discrimination. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act also prohibits discrimination against pregnant employees.

The Right to Accommodations

If an employee has a pregnancy-related medical condition, such as preeclampsia or sciatica, that makes it difficult to perform their job, the ADA and FEHA entitle the employee to reasonable accommodations that allow them to work. Such accommodations may include more frequent breaks, permission to stand or sit while working, changes in furniture, changing job duties, or even the ability to work from home.

Parental  Leave

Companies with a certain number of employees must comply with both the FMLA and CFRA, which allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period of time for qualified reasons, which include medical conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, and time to bond with a child. The PDL also allows certain employees who are disabled by pregnancy to take up to 4 months of leave during the time period of the pregnancy disability. During an employee’s leave, an employer must terminate the employee for taking leave, and may not retaliate against the employee for taking leave. In addition, certain employees may be eligible for paid leave through the California State Disability Insurance Program.

The Right to Take Legal Action

Not all employers comply with the law as they should, and some employers may engage in unlawful pregnancy discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or wrongful termination. Employees have the right to file legal claims against their employers to seek damages for lost income, emotional distress, and other losses.

Contact an Experienced San Francisco Employment Discrimination Attorney for More Information

It is important for San Francisco employees to fully understand their rights under state and federal laws. The employment lawyers at Minnis & Smallets are ready to help employees who had their rights violated. Contact the firm to discuss a possible case today.