Becoming pregnant should be cause for celebration. Becoming pregnant should also have no bearing on your ability to obtain and keep your job. Sadly, some employers continue to discriminate against employees who are pregnant or are new parents. Many employees also do not take family leave to bond with a child because they are afraid they will lose their jobs.
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits employers from wrongfully terminating or otherwise discriminating against any employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Other California and federal laws also prohibit employers from discriminating or retaliating against both new mothers and fathers who request or take a protected parental leave of absence to bond with an infant, adopted child or foster child.
If you suspect your employer discriminated against you because of your pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions, or because you sought a protected maternity or paternity leave of absence, we encourage you to contact us to see how we can help. You may be entitled to compensation. We will evaluate your claims, explain the discrimination and leave laws and your legal options, and propose a strategy to obtain the justice you deserve.
Our Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination lawyer will handle all discrimination cases on a contingency basis. If we take your case, you pay us nothing unless and until we obtain a settlement or verdict for you. Contact us online or at (213) 863-4276 to schedule a free, initial consultation.
Pregnancy and New Parent Discrimination in the Workplace
Unlawful pregnancy and new parent discrimination in the workplace can take many forms. Common examples include:
- Refusing to hire, failing to promote, demoting, or firing pregnant workers after learning they are pregnant;
- Discharging workers who take medical leave for pregnancy-related conditions;
- Denying the 12 weeks of maternity leave that a pregnant employee should have received under the Family Medical Leave Act, the California Family Rights Act or California’s New Parent Leave Act;
- Failing to accommodate pregnancy-related work restrictions;
- Retaliating against an employee who requests a pregnancy or new parent leave of absence or who complains about pregnancy discrimination.
If you suspect you’ve experienced pregnancy or new parent discrimination at work, a Los Angeles employment attorney from Custis Law, P.C. can help. Contact us online or at (213) 863-4276 for a free, confidential consultation.
Your Rights Under California and Federal Law After Becoming Pregnant
You Have a Right to Be Free of Discrimination at Your Job
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects against pregnancy discrimination by explicitly prohibiting employers from terminating, harassing, demoting, or otherwise discriminating against any employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and medical conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
You May Have a Right to Take A Leave Of Absence Under California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL) For Pregnancy-Related Disabilities
The PDLL is a pregnancy discrimination act that provides up to four months of job-protected leave for women who experience a pregnancy disability. A “pregnancy disability” is defined as a physical or mental condition related to pregnancy or childbirth that either: (i) prevents performance of essential job duties, or (ii) would result in undue risk to the woman or her pregnancy if job performance is continued. As a general rule, your physician will determine whether you have a pregnancy disability. Common examples of eligible pregnancy disabilities include:
- Gestational diabetes
- Loss of pregnancy
- Medical conditions requiring bed rest
- Post-partum depression
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Prenatal or postnatal care
- Severe morning sickness
The PDLL applies to California employers with five or more employees. Leave under the PDLL may be taken all at once or intermittently on an as-needed basis. You should be aware that a leave of absence under the PDLL is not the same as maternity leave. If you take unpaid leave under the PDLL due to a pregnancy disability, you may still be eligible to take bonding leave after the birth of your child under the CFRA, FMLA or California’s New Parent Leave Act.
You May Have a Right To Take a Parental Leave Of Absence for Pregnancy And Baby Bonding Under The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) Or California’s New Parent Leave Act.
The FMLA, the CFRA and the New Parent Leave Act provide many employees with the right to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to care for a newborn child or a child who has recently been adopted by or placed in foster care with the employee.
To be eligible for a protected leave under the FMLA, CFRA or the New Parent Leave Act, you must satisfy each of the following conditions:
- Employment Duration: You must have at least 12 months of service with your employer;
- Hours Worked: You must have worked at least 1,250 hours for your employer during the past 12 months; and
- Employer Size: Your employer must have at least 20 employees employed within 75 miles of your job site.
If your employer has 50 or more employees who work within 75 miles of your job site, you’re covered by the FMLA and CFRA. If your employer has between 20 and 49 employees within 75 miles of your job site, you’re covered under California’s New Parent Leave Act.
Under FMLA, CFRA and the New Parent Leave Act, an eligible employee is entitled to the following benefits:
- Your employer must provide you with up to 12 weeks of job-protected bonding leave;
- At or before the beginning of your leave, your employer must provide a guarantee of employment in the same or a comparable position when you return from the leave;
- Your employer must maintain and pay for group health coverage at the level and under the conditions that would have been provided if you had continued to work for the duration of the leave;
- Your employer must allow you to use accrued vacation pay, paid sick time, and other accrued paid time off; and
- Your employer cannot retaliate against you for exercising your right to take parental leave.
Leave under the FMLA, CFRA and the New Parent Leave Act generally may be taken all at once or intermittently on an as-needed basis. Under certain circumstances, your employer may ask you to take leave in two-week blocks. If you have questions about these options, contact us for a free, confidential consultation.
What You Can Do Now About Pregnancy Discrimination
If you believe you may have a claim for workplace discrimination, you can take a number of steps to protect yourself and preserve your legal rights.
Keep a journal of the discriminatory acts and harassment you’ve experienced, including dates, places, times, names of the persons involved and names of witnesses. Keep this journal at home or in a safe place, and not at work.
Report it in Writing
Many employers have pregnancy discrimination policies in their employee handbook. If your employer does, follow the procedure in the handbook for reporting pregnancy discrimination and harassment. If your employer does not, make a written report to your supervisor or someone in human resources. This report does not need to be long or formal. An email will work fine.
Keep copies of emails and other documents that you have sent or received from your employer regarding your complaint. Keep copies of emails and other documents, too, that you have received that you suspect are discriminatory or harassing. If your employer has an employee handbook, obtain a copy. Also, keep copies of positive performance reviews and letters. Keep these records at home or in a safe place, and not at work.
No one wants to experience pregnancy discrimination at work. We understand that. But employees who quit before reporting pregnancy discrimination will have a more difficult time winning a lawsuit. If you’re experiencing a stressful workplace, talk to an experienced employment attorney about how to preserve your legal claims.
Take Care of Yourself
Seek professional counseling or treatment if you are experiencing emotional distress, anxiety, depression or other psychological symptoms because of pregnancy discrimination.
Contact an Employment Attorney
Contact an employment law attorney at Custis Law, P.C. online or at (213) 863-4276 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.