What is Pregnancy Discrimination – and How To Spot It in the California Workplace

When it comes to California pregnancy discrimination, it’s rarely as obvious as your boss saying, “You’re being fired because you’re pregnant.” That can lead many who have experienced pregnancy discrimination to second-guess themselves, and whether their experience was, in fact, discriminatory and based on their protected status as a pregnant person. In fact, too often, targets of pregnancy discrimination are gaslit into believing they were the problem.Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination lawyer

Meanwhile, the Equality and Human Rights Commission reports some 54,000 women a year lose their jobs due to pregnancy. 1 in 5 experience workplace harassment or negative comments due to their pregnancy. 1 in 10 are discouraged from attending their regular doctor’s appointments.

As longtime Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination lawyers, we’re committed to helping those who have experienced these ordeals to sort through these events through a legal lens, with the goal of determining whether they are legally actionable.

The following are some red flags that you may be experiencing discrimination related to pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood. These include:

  • Questioning an employee’s future intent to have children. It’s not necessarily illegal to ask the question of current or prospective employees, but it can leave the employer open to a pregnancy discrimination claim if they later choose not to hire that candidate or deny that employee certain opportunities. From the perspective of a supervisor, they may feel entitled to plan for that eventuality, but from a legal and HR point-of-view, this is a very slippery slope that indicates the strong potential for discriminatory decisions that may violate federal and state pregnancy discrimination laws.
  • Pressuring a pregnant employee to re-apply or apply for a different job. Pregnant employees should be treated fairly and equally to other employees, and should not be made to feel they can no longer do their current job. They may be entitled to certain accommodations to be able to do their job while they are pregnant or nursing. These can include more frequent restroom breaks, adequate time for doctor’s appointments, and breaks to nurse/express milk. What they shouldn’t be forced to do is give up their current role simply because they are pregnant or a new parent.
  • Penalizing workers for taking temporary medical/disability leave – with or without pay. Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, an employer that allows temporarily disabled employees to take disability leave must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled due to pregnancy to do the same. Employers can’t single out pregnancy-related conditions for special procedures to determine an employee’s ability to work. Further, per the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, a new parent may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave (unpaid or paid if the employee has accrued it), and it may be used to care for a new child. Employees must be returned to the same job or a comparable job. To be eligible, the employee must have worked 12 months prior to taking the leave, and the employer must have a certain number of employees. Violations of these laws may be grounds for a pregnancy discrimination claim.
  • Failure to transfer you to a less strenuous or hazardous position (if available) or duties if medically needed because of your pregnancy. This is provided under California law.
  • Harassment related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. Harassment of this nature is illegal when it so severe/frequent that it results in a hostile or offensive working environment. It’s also considered harassment when it results in an adverse employment decision, such as demotion or termination. Harassment is not limited to supervisors and co-workers, but may also be someone who is a client or customer. The question will be what steps the employer took to protect the employee from a hostile work environment.

If you believe you may have experienced pregnancy discrimination in Southern California, our Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination lawyers can help.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Newport Beach, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

Pregnancy Discrimination, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

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