Expecting a baby can be an exciting chapter in a woman’s life. But for career women, a pregnancy can adversely affect their jobs when subjected to unlawful pregnancy discrimination.
A pregnant employee or job applicant can experience pregnancy discrimination when she receives unfavorable treatment on account of her condition. Examples of this type of employment discrimination include:
- Refusing to hire a woman because she is pregnant or may become pregnant
- Firing a woman because of her pregnancy-related conditions
- Demoting a woman because she is experiencing disabling conditions related to her pregnancy
- Denying a woman time off for health issues such as morning sickness and other conditions related to her pregnancy
- Treating a pregnant employee unfavorably by denying her a workplace accommodation, while granting a similar accommodation to other temporarily disabled employees
- Failing to provide reasonable accommodation for a pregnant woman’s disabling condition
California Pregnancy Discrimination Law
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) makes it illegal for employers with a minimum of five (5) employees to discriminate against or harass female employees because of their pregnancy. FEHA covers not only pregnancy but also childbirth, loss of pregnancy, and other related mental and physical conditions.
Rights of pregnant employees
Pregnancy Disability Leave
A pregnant employee has the right to take up to four (4) months off, either all at once or on an intermittent basis, to deal with disabling conditions of the pregnancy. The pregnancy disability leave is available to a pregnant employee, regardless of the length of the employment or the number of hours she works. Your employer cannot deny you time off for pregnancy disability leave, discriminate against you for taking leave, or otherwise interfere with your right to take leave. Contact an experienced pregnancy attorney immediately if you experience harassment or discrimination because of your pregnancy or intention to take time off to deal with your pregnancy-related condition.
Duty to Provide Reasonable Accommodation
Pregnant employees may experience a physical or mental condition that substantially limits their activities such as standing, lifting, bending, and walking. Employers may be legally required to provide reasonable accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy-related condition that she may request on the advice of a health care provider. To be entitled to this right, a pregnant employee must be able to perform the essential functions of her job with the reasonable accommodation requested.
Reasonable accommodation refers to a change in the work environment or the manner or method that a job is performed for the purpose of accommodating a pregnancy-related impairment or disability while the employee is still performing essential job functions. Examples of reasonable accommodation include:
- Changing an employee’s scheduled breaks to enable frequent bathroom visits
- Taking more time off to deal with morning sickness or a threatened miscarriage
- Job restructuring
- Modifications of the time when tasks must be completed
- Granting leave for treatment and recovery
- Modifications to how job function is performed
- Temporary assignment to a vacant position
Ask about Reasonable Accommodation
If you are pregnant and think you may need accommodation for your pregnancy or a related medical issue:
- Consult your doctor and obtain a recommendation for specific workplace accommodations suitable for your pregnancy-related condition
- Notify your employer immediately of your need for accommodation
Legal Help for Pregnancy Discrimination
The legal protection against pregnancy discrimination extends to pregnant job applicants and both regular and temporary employees. It protects pregnant employees who may be treated unfavorably in:
- Job assignment
- Work conditions
- Other terms and conditions of employment
If you have experienced different or unfavorable treatment because you are pregnant, one of the first steps to take is to create a written record of incidents and details of the questionable conduct to be provided to an employment lawyer. Write down dates, times, places, and names of anyone who may have witnessed the unfavorable behavior or harassment. Consult a competent and experienced pregnancy attorney immediately to learn more about your options. Your attorney can determine important issues such as:
- Whether the acts that you complained of constitute pregnancy discrimination
- Whether you are entitled to reasonable accommodation
- Whether you have been denied reasonable accommodation
- Whether your employer may be legally responsible for the questioned behavior in the workplace
If you have a legal cause of action for pregnancy discrimination, your lawyer should be able to help in preparing the appropriate complaint and ensuring that it is filed within the time limits set by law.
Pregnancy Attorneys Serving Los Angeles, California
Pregnant women are vulnerable to discrimination and harassment due to their delicate condition. The law firm of Mehtani Law Offices understands how discrimination and harassment can affect a pregnant employee’s ability to take care of herself. While the senior partners of the firm were formerly attorneys for big companies and employers, the firm has in recent years focused on helping employees like pregnant women who experience tough situations in their jobs.
Our firm has decades of proven experience in the practice of employment discrimination law, and we are prepared to go to trial in order to obtain the best results for our clients.