California and federal law prohibits pregnancy discrimination in hiring, firing, and in the terms and conditions of employment. California law also guarantees most employees the right to take job-protected pregnancy leave under certain circumstances. When those laws are violated, the pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Minnis & Smallets help individuals pursue compensation and other remedies.
Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a pregnant employee or job applicant unfavorably because of her pregnancy. Pregnancy discrimination is often based on the stereotype that pregnant women will not continue in their job after childbirth, or on the belief that pregnant women are less capable than other employees.
Examples of illegal discriminatory treatment include:
In some cases, employers make comments or engage in other behavior that, standing alone, shows pregnancy discrimination. This includes making disparaging remarks about pregnant employees or stereotyping pregnant employees. In other cases, discrimination is inferred from the circumstances or timing of events, including the fact that the employer treats a pregnant employee less favorably than a similar employee who is not pregnant or begins to treat an employee differently after learning she is pregnant.
Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation to a pregnant employee at her request, in accordance with advice she receives from her doctor, to enable her to perform her job duties while pregnant or experiencing a related medical condition. Examples of reasonable accommodations that employers may be required to provide to pregnant employees include a reduction in the weight an employee is required to lift, extra bathroom breaks, or transfer to a less strenuous position.
Pregnant employees working for an employer with 5 or more employees may be entitled to unpaid leave under California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Act. This law allows pregnant employees to take up to four months of pregnancy disability leave to cover the time in which they are actually disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. A disability refers to the inability to perform an essential job function due to pregnancy without placing the employee or her pregnancy at risk.
Pregnancy disability leave is in addition to the leave available to care for a sick baby or to bond with a new child under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), which provides an additional 12 weeks of unpaid leave for parents of newborn children who meet the eligibility requirements of the CFRA. Leave available under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) runs concurrently with California state law.
The Pregnancy Disability Leave Act, FMLA, and CFRA provide employees with job-protected leave, meaning that, in most cases, the employer must allow the employee to return to the same job after the leave has ended. The employer may not interfere with an employee’s leave rights or retaliate against an employee requesting or taking pregnancy disability leave. The employer may not use the employee’s leave as a negative factor in employment decisions, such as termination, promotion or reinstatement.
The pregnancy discrimination attorneys at Minnis & Smallets represent employees whose employment rights were violated due to pregnancy or childbirth. Call us at 1-415-551-0885 or submit our contact form to learn how we can help you.