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Pregnancy Discrimination in California


If you are or were an expectant mother and have been discriminated against in the workplace due to your pregnancy, your employer may be liable under federal and California law. Both Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (federal law) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibit unfair treatment of a pregnant employee. Under these laws, a pregnant employee must be treated the same in all employment-related matters as any other employee with similar abilities and skills. Employers are also required to reasonably accommodate a pregnant employee as they would an employee who is physically disabled, such as adjusting work duties or schedules. If you believe that you have been unfairly treated by an employer because you are pregnant, you should contact an employment law attorney as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Arias, Ozzello & Gignac, our experienced employment discrimination lawyers can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Call today for a free evaluation of your case.


Illegal Employer Actions in California

Under California law, an employer is prohibited from discriminating against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. It is illegal for an employer to take any of the following actions against an employee based on pregnancy:

  • Termination
  • Discrimination against a pregnant employee in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment
  • Denial of the same benefits provided to other employees
  • Denial of up to four months of maternity leave
  • Refusal to transfer a pregnant employee to a less strenuous or hazardous position if the transfer can be done reasonably
  • Refusal to provide a pregnant employee with reasonable accommodations if requested

California Pregnant Employee Rights

A pregnant employee has several special rights under California law. These include the following:

  • Reasonable accommodations: If a pregnant employee makes reasonable requests for special accommodations, such as weight-lifting restrictions or re-assignment away from toxic materials dangerous to a fetus, then the employer must comply if the accommodations do not entail an undue hardship for the employer. Employers must also provide break time and a private area for mothers to breastfeed their infant in the workplace.
  • Maternity leave: Employers must allow an employee up to four months of leave for medical complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. The leave does not have to be taken all at once and may include periods before and after birth. An employer may require the employee to use accumulated sick leave during this period, but accrued vacation time need not be used. Under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), an employee may take up to an additional 12 weeks of leave after childbirth. The law also allows fathers as well as mothers to take this leave in order to take care of and bond with newborn children.
  • Wages: Under California's FEHA, pregnant employees are entitled to disability pay when taking leave for medical complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Partial compensation is also available for parents who take time off from work under the State Disability Insurance Law.
  • Return to work: After taking a childbirth-related disability leave, an employee is entitled to return to the same job within a certain amount of time. If the job no longer exists, the employer must place the employee in a job with similar wages, location, duties, and other conditions of work.

California Pregnancy Discrimination Attorneys

If you have been discriminated against in the workplace because of your pregnancy, you should contact an employment lawyer as soon as possible. You may be able to recover damages for such things as emotional distress, lost wages and benefits, punitive damages, and attorney's fees. Call the Law Offices of Arias, Ozzello & Gignac today. Our experienced employment discrimination attorneys will aggressively protect your rights and help you recover the compensation you deserve.

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