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Helping You Navigate Workplace Issues in California

California Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer

Both federal and state law prohibit discrimination against women based on pregnancy and require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. Unfortunately, discrimination still occurs in the workplace, so if you were not hired due to pregnancy, affected in your employment because of your pregnancy, or were unable to obtain leave, it is important to contact an experienced California pregnancy discrimination lawyer who can help protect your interests.

Federal Law

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against a woman based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a pregnancy-related medical condition. According to the terms of the statute, an employer is not permitted to take the following actions:

  • Refuse to hire a woman because of a pregnancy-related condition if she is able to perform the major functions of her job;
  • Refuse to hire a pregnant woman because of his or her own prejudices or the prejudices of customers, clients, or co-workers;
  • Deny a pregnant employee equal pay, fringe benefits, or opportunities for job assignments, promotions, and training;
  • Single out pregnancy-related conditions for medical clearance procedures that are not required of other employees;
  • Require a woman to remain on leave until her baby is born;
  • Institute a rule prohibiting an employee from returning to work for a set amount of time after having a baby;
  • Refuse to grant a pregnant employee temporary disability leave if other employees are given the same right; and
  • Refuse to hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence for the same length of time that jobs are held open for employees on disability or sick leave.

The PDA also requires employers to give pregnant employees the same accommodations provided to temporarily disabled employees, or to those who are on leave for health conditions. This includes making the following changes:

  • Lighter duty;
  • Modified tasks;
  • Alternative assignments;
  • Disability leave; and
  • Leave without pay.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees suffering from pregnancy-related health conditions, such as gestational diabetes.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a new parent is eligible to receive three months of leave that can be used for the care of his or her new child, including:

  • Prenatal care, including doctors’ appointments;
  • Inability to work during pregnancy;
  • Serious health conditions arising from pregnancy or childbirth; and
  • Parental leave.

The leave will be unpaid unless the employee has earned it, in which case, the employer must grant paid leave. However, not all pregnant employees qualify for this right. For instance, the FMLA only applies to employees who:

  • Work for a covered employer;
  • Have worked for the employer for at least one year;
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the prior year; and
  • Works at a location where the employer has at least 50 workers within 75 miles.

Covered employers include:

  • Private sector employers with 50 or more employees;
  • Public agency employees, regardless of the number of employees; or
  • Employees of an elementary or secondary school.

State Law

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) also prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or childbirth and unlike federal law, applies to all employers who have five or more workers. Unlike the PDA, state law requires employers to provide pregnant women with reasonable accommodations when they have medical restrictions. This is true even when an employer doesn’t offer the same accommodations to other disabled employees.

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) applies to employers who employ five or more workers and requires employers to provide up to four months of unpaid leave to employees who cannot work as a result of pregnancy. If an employee is eligible for leave under both the federal and state family leave laws, she can take three months of FMLA leave after the four months offered under state law. Finally, under California’s temporary disability insurance program, an employee who is unable to work due to pregnancy is eligible to receive up to two thirds of her usual wages during the pregnancy. After the birth of a child, an employee can receive partial wages for up to six weeks after the birth.

Contact an Experienced California Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Today

Women who have been discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy may be able to recover back pay, lost benefits, and damages for pain and suffering, so if you were recently fired, demoted, or refused benefits because you were pregnant, please contact our California pregnancy discrimination lawyers today for an initial consultation.

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* Cathleen Scott is licensed to practice in Florida only.

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