Becoming pregnant should be one of the most joyous experiences in life. For working women, being pregnant or the decision to become pregnant should not have any negative effects when obtaining or maintaining a job. Unfortunately, some employers discriminate against employees who are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are new parents. Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a job applicant or employee unfavorably because of their pregnancy, childbirth, or medical condition that is related to pregnancy or childbirth. Unfair treatment and discrimination can happen at any point of the employment process including the job search, hiring, and firing. Sadly, many employees also do not take time off to bond with a child because they’re afraid doing so may cost them their jobs.
However, there are both federal and state laws that protect California workers from pregnancy discrimination. In addition to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA), California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL), California Family Rights Act (CFRA), and New Parent Leave Act makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against pregnant workers.
Here are shortcuts to the specific topics:
- 1. Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace Lawyer
- 2. How a Mesriani Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Can Help
- 3. Why You Should Choose a Mesriani Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney
- 4. What Constitutes Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace?
- 5. Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination
- 6. What Should You Do If You Have Been a Victim of Pregnancy Discrimination?
- 7. What are Your Rights as a Pregnant Employee?
- 8. What Laws Protect Your Rights as a Pregnant Woman at Work?
- 9. How to Prove You Have Been Discriminated Against Based on Pregnancy Status
- 10. Elements Necessary to Prove Pregnancy Discrimination
- 11. Hold Your Employer Accountable for Damages
- 12. The Process of Filing a Pregnancy Discrimination Claim
- 13. Call Mesriani Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
- 14. Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer FAQs
How a Mesriani Law Group Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Can Help
If you suspect that your employer has taken adverse actions or has discriminated against you because of your pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions, we encourage you to contact our law firm to see how we can help. Pregnancy discrimination victims may be entitled to compensation for their losses. Our employment attorneys will evaluate your claims, explain discrimination and leave laws, present you with the best legal options, and propose a strategy to help you obtain the justice you deserve.
We accept clients on a contingency basis meaning that if we don’t win your case, you don’t pay us anything. Call our law office today at (866) 500-7070 for a free consultation.
Why You Should Choose a Mesriani Law Group Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney
While there may be numerous legal counsel options for pregnancy discrimination claims, choosing the right representation for your specific situation is essential to obtaining successful results. At Mesriani Law Group, we provide our clients with the following:
What Constitutes Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace?
If an employer treats a job applicant or employee unfavorably because she is pregnant, it is considered pregnancy discrimination. California law prohibits employers who have five or more employees from making hiring decisions and job actions based on a person’s pregnancy status. Refusing to hire a job applicant, cutting an employee’s pay, excluding, harassing, or terminating an employee because of their pregnancy status is also against the law.
There are many situations where an employer could discriminate against you based on your pregnancy status. If an employer fired, demoted, reduced your pay, or made changes to your position without explanation, or asked you if you have plans to become pregnant, you might have a pregnancy discrimination case.
If you think that you have been discriminated against at work because of your pregnancy status, contact our Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination attorney today. Our experienced legal team can review your case and explain your rights as a pregnant California employee or job applicant. After your free consultation, our employment law attorneys can help you figure out the next best steps to take.
Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination
Unlawful pregnancy discrimination in the workplace can take many forms. Essentially, almost any action or inaction that doesn’t fulfill the requirements of employment and pregnancy laws is pregnancy discrimination. There are numerous examples of pregnancy discrimination that can affect California workers– knowing what they look like can help you identify and stop it as soon as possible.
Common examples of pregnancy discrimination include:
- Not hiring a qualified job applicant because she is pregnant or might become pregnant one day.
- Firing, demoting, or reducing pay of an employee because of her medically related pregnancy issues.
- Failing to provide reasonable accommodations for a pregnant employee and related disabilities (for example, her inability to lift heavy loads due to pregnancy).
- Discriminating against an employee because she recently gave birth and needs to breastfeed or pump.
- Punishing an employee by changing her job title to a lower position or cutting her work hours because she is pregnant or might become pregnant one day.
- Harassing an employee because she’s pregnant (for example, offensive jokes, threats, intimidation, or physical assaults).
- Making job decision including hiring, firing, layoffs, demotions, training, benefits, and job assignments based on pregnancy.
- Forcing a pregnant employee to take time off.
- Reassigning a pregnant employee to a less stressful or lower-level job even if she has been performing at a satisfactory level.
- Setting restrictions on medical leave related to pregnancy, delivery, or related complications.
- Denying the 12 weeks of maternity leave that a pregnant employee is entitled to under FMLA, CFRA, or California’s New Parent Leave Act.
- Retaliating against an employee who requests for a pregnancy leave or new parent leave of absence.
- Retaliating against an employee who filed a complaint about pregnancy discrimination at work.
As an expecting mother in California, you have legal rights. If you suspect you’ve experienced pregnancy discrimination at work, a Los Angeles employment attorney from Mesriani Law Group can help. Contact our law firm at (866) 500-7070 for a free, confidential consultation.
What Should You Do If You Have Been a Victim of Pregnancy Discrimination?
If you believe that you are a victim of pregnancy discrimination, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and preserve your legal rights. Here’s what you should do:
- Journal – Keep a journal of all the harassment and discriminatory actions you’ve experienced at work. Write down names of the people involved, dates, times, places, and names of any witnesses. Make sure you keep this journal in a safe place at home or somewhere that is not at work.
- Report it in writing – Most employers have pregnancy discrimination policies in their employee handbook. If your employer does have a policy in place, follow the procedures regarding how to report pregnancy discrimination and harassment. If your employer doesn’t have a policy in place, send a written report to your supervisor, manager, or someone in the human resources department. This report doesn’t necessarily have to be formal or very long– it can just be an email.
- Keep written records – Collect and keep as many written documentations as you can. These can include copies of emails you have sent or received from your employer regarding your complaint. Other records you should keep include emails to your employer, supervisor, or someone in human resources about discriminatory actions or harassment. If you have received any performance reviews or memos, keep those as well. If your employer has an employee handbook, obtain a copy for yourself. Keep these records at home or another safe place, but not at work.
- Don’t quit your job – it’s difficult to get treated unfairly at work, especially because of your pregnancy status. It’s understandable that you may want to quit working at a workplace that allows harassment or discrimination but quitting means you’ll have a more challenging time winning a lawsuit. If you are being discriminated against at work, speak with one of our employment law attorneys at as soon possible about how to seek a legal claim.
- Take care of yourself – If you are experiencing anxiety, depression, emotional distress, or any other psychological symptoms because of pregnancy discrimination, seek professional counseling or treatment.
- Contact an employment lawyer – California workers should not have to endure pregnancy discrimination or harassment at work. Contact a pregnancy discrimination lawyer at Mesriani Law Group today at (866) 500-7070 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
What are Your Rights as a Pregnant Employee?
Expecting mothers have the same rights as other employees as well as several other rights specifically related to pregnancy status. For example, employees have the right to a safe and healthy working environment that does not submit them to discrimination or hostility. Based on your pregnancy, you have special rights such as the right to take reasonable leave without fear of termination or retaliation. You also have the right to apply for a job without worrying about an employer refusing to hire you before you are pregnant.
In Los Angeles and throughout California, pregnant employees may seek maternity leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) or Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Additionally, the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL), may also provide up to four months of protected leave for women disabled by pregnancy. It is illegal for an employer to deny pregnancy leave and an employer that does so is violating your rights.
The law also protects employees from being singled out for conditions related to pregnancy and from special procedures to determine their ability to work. However, an employer may use a procedure that is also used to screen other non-pregnant employees’ ability to work. For example, an employer may require a pregnant woman to submit a doctor’s note before granting leave or sick pay benefits if other non-pregnant employees are also required to submit a doctor’s note before taking leave or sick pay benefits.
If an employee is unable to temporarily do their job due to pregnancy, the employer must treat them the same way as any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, an employer can offer alternative job assignments, modified tasks, disability leave, or leave without pay.
Employers must allow pregnant employees to work if they can do their job. If an employee missed work because of a pregnancy-related condition and recovers, the employer cannot require her to remain on leave until the baby is born. Additionally, employers may not prohibit employees from returning to work for a predetermined amount of time after giving birth.
California employers must keep the job open for a maternity leave or pregnancy related absence for the same amount of time that the job would be held open for non-pregnant employees who are on sick or disability leave.
Unfortunately, some employers still engage in pregnancy discrimination even after they find out an employee is pregnant. If you notice any adverse employment actions taken against you such as reduced pay, change in benefits, harassment, or change in employment status, you should speak with a Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination lawyer to learn more about your legal rights. Employees who are discriminated against at work because of their pregnancy or pregnancy-related status may be able to file a claim against their employer. By taking legal action, employees can expose their employer’s illegal actions and help protect other working women from enduring similar discriminatory experiences in the future. Victims of pregnancy discrimination may also be entitled to recover damages for their losses including lost wages, medical costs, and emotional distress. In some cases, victims may also get awarded punitive damages if the behavior of the employer was particularly malicious.
What Laws Protect Your Rights as a Pregnant Woman at Work?
Both state and federal laws prohibit pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Here’s what you should know about the federal and California specific laws that protect pregnant employees:
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – FMLA entitles eligible employees to take job-protected, unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons. Under FMLA, eligible employees are entitled to 12 work weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the following:
- Birth of a child and to care for a newborn child within one year of birth.
- Placement of child for adoption or foster care and to care for the child within one year of placement.
- Care for employee’s spouse, parent, or child who has a serious health condition.
- Serious health condition that disables the employee so he or she cannot perform essential functions of the job.
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) – The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy in any aspect of employment including hiring, firing, compensation, promotions, job assignments, training, fringe benefits such as health insurance or leave, layoffs, and any other terms or conditions of employment. Under this law, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations as they would for any employee with health conditions, disabilities, or injuries.
- Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA) – California’s FEHA makes pregnancy discrimination illegal but applies to employers with five or more workers. This law protects pregnant women and includes provisions regarding pregnancy leave. Under FEHA, all employers must give employees information about pregnancy leave rights. FEHA also makes it illegal for employers with five or more workers to discriminate against pregnant workers regarding job compensation or privileges because of their pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
- California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL) – This California law requires employers to provide employees with up to four months of unpaid leave for a disability due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a medically related condition. Common examples of eligible pregnancy disabilities include:
- Post-partum depression
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Prenatal or postnatal care
- Medical conditions requiring bed rest
- Loss of pregnancy
- Severe morning sickness
- Gestational diabetes
PDLL applies to California employers with five or more employees. Employees taking leave under PDLL can take the time off all at once or periodically on an as-needed basis. Taking a leave of absence under PDLL is not the same as maternity leave. If an employee takes unpaid leave under PDLL because of a pregnancy related disability, they may still be eligible to take bonding leave after childbirth under FMLA, CFRA, or California’s New Parent Leave Act. An employer is not allowed to discriminate against you for taking this leave.
For example, if your employer changed your position to a lower paying one because you requested for PDDL, you may be able to file a pregnancy discrimination claim. Our Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination attorney can help you figure out the next best steps if you have been discriminated against at work due to a pregnancy, childbirth, or medically related condition.
- California Family Rights Act (CFRA) – CFRA provides pregnant women with the right to take reasonable leave (up to four months) and use any available vacation leave hours during this time. Under this law, it is illegal for an employer to refuse to maintain pay that covers reasonable leave related to a worker’s pregnancy or childbirth.
- New Parent Leave Act – The New Parent Leave Act in California extends pregnancy leave rights to fathers– allowing workers to take paternity leave benefits. Like the federal FMLA and state CFRA, the New Parent Leave Act also provides up to 12 weeks of protected paternity leave. However, this law extends to apply to smaller employers with as few as 20 to 49 employees. This law is important for employees in California because it bridges the gap between employers with less than 50 employees and who aren’t covered under FMLA. Under this law, parental leave is only available to employees who aren’t covered under FMLA or CFRA.
Certain conditions must be met to qualify for protected leave under FMLA, CFRA, or the New Parent Leave Act. Employees who wish to seek protected leave under these laws must meet each of the following conditions:
- Employer size – Your employer must have at least 20 employees within 75 miles of your work site.
- Employment duration – You must have worked for at least 12 months with your employer.
- Hours worked – You must have worked at least 1,250 hours for your employer during the past 12 months.
You are covered under FMLA and CFRA if your employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles of your job site. But if your employer has between 20 to 49 employees within 49 miles of your job site, then you are covered under California’s New Parent Leave Act.
Under FMLA, CFRA, and the New Parent Leave Act, eligible employees are entitled to the following benefits:
- Up to 12 weeks of job-protected bonding leave.
- At the beginning or before your leave, your employer must guarantee your employment in the same or a comparable position upon your return.
- Your employer must pay and maintain for your group health benefits at the same level that you would have been provided if you had continued to work for the time of the leave.
- Your employer must allow you to use any of your accrued vacation time, sick time, and any other accrued paid time off.
- Your employer can’t retaliate against you for taking parental leave.
Generally, under FMLA, CRFA, and the New Parent Leave Act, employees can take leave all at once or periodically on an as-need basis. Under certain conditions, an employer may request that you take your leave in two-week blocks. If your employer makes this request or if you have any questions about pregnancy leave, contact our law firm for a free, confidential consultation.
How to Prove You Have Been Discriminated Against Based on Pregnancy Status
Discrimination based on pregnancy status can be proven in two ways: direct evidence or circumstantial evidence.
- To prove a claim based on direct evidence, an employee must prove that she was the recipient of discriminatory comments.
- To prove a claim based on circumstantial evidence, an employee must prove that there was an adverse employment action taken against them based on her pregnancy related status while she was performing their job in a satisfactory manner.
Proving discrimination can be challenging but an experienced Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination lawyer can help you obtain the justice you deserve. Whether it’s through direct or circumstantial evidence, a skilled lawyer can prove that your employer discriminated against you based on your pregnancy related status and help obtain compensation for your losses.
Elements Necessary to Prove Pregnancy Discrimination
Elements of a legal claim are the facts that the plaintiff (filing party) must prove to win a case. An employment law attorney can help you with the elements of a pregnancy discrimination claim by collecting evidence and taking the necessary steps to prove your case during arbitration or in court.
There are four main elements necessary to prove a pregnancy discrimination claim including:
- Federal or state pregnancy discrimination laws that apply to your employer.
- Your employer took an adverse or negative action against you (such as firing or refusing you hire you based on your pregnancy or medically related status).
- Your pregnancy or related medically related condition was a motivating factor for your employer’s adverse action.
- Because of your employer’s adverse actions, you suffered harm (such as lost wages, back pay, or pain and suffering, or emotional distress).
By proving these elements, you will have a strong chance of obtaining compensation for your losses. Pregnancy discrimination victims are entitled to various types of damages including back pay, front pay, job reinstatement, out-of-pocket expenses, attorney’s fees, court costs, and emotional distress damages. In some cases, victims may also get awarded punitive damages if the court finds that your employer’s actions were especially malicious or egregious.
Hold Your Employer Accountable for Damages
Victims of unlawful harassment or pregnancy discrimination at the workplace are entitled to recover damages for their losses. With the help of a California pregnancy discrimination attorney, compensation you may receive could include:
- Lost wages
- Back pay
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering damages
- Attorney’s fees
- Punitive damages
The total compensation each victim will be able to collect as each case is unique. If you think you’ve been discriminated against or believe your employer took adverse employment against you because of your pregnancy, an employment attorney can help you identify the different types of damages you may be entitled to.
The Process of Filing a Pregnancy Discrimination Claim
If you suspect pregnancy discrimination at work, your first step is typically to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state’s administrative agency. Filing a claim with the EEOC or a state’s administrative agency is usually the required first step before you can bring a formal pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against your employer. If the issues are very clear and the potential damages are high, the EEOC may choose to investigate your claim. Otherwise, the EEOC will probably refuse to represent you.
If the EEOC or state agency refuses to help you with your claim, you have the right to hire a Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination lawyer. Unlike government agencies, a private lawyer works for you and has your best interest in mind. Working with an employment lawyer will greatly increase your chances of obtaining the maximum compensation you deserve. Typically, compensation for a pregnancy discrimination claim can include economic and non-economic damages including back pay, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress damages.
Call Mesriani Law Group Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
To learn more about how a California pregnancy discrimination attorney from Mesriani Law Group can help you, contact us (866) 500-7070 to schedule a free consultation. We offer our clients a no win, no fee guarantee meaning that if we don’t win your case, you don’t pay us anything.
Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer FAQs
Can you sue for pregnancy discrimination?
Federal and California state laws forbid discrimination based on pregnancy in any aspect of employment including hiring, firing, compensation, benefits, job assignments, layoffs, training, promotions, leave, health insurance, or any other terms or conditions of employment. Additionally, employers are obligated to provide reasonable accommodations to a pregnant employee. If an employer discriminated against you because of your pregnancy or related conditions, or refused to provide you with reasonable work accommodations, then you may be entitled to file a lawsuit against your employer.
What is an example of pregnancy discrimination?
There are many examples of pregnancy discrimination at the workplace. For example, if an employer refuses to hire a job applicant because she is pregnant or may someday become pregnant, it is considered pregnancy discrimination.
What type of discrimination is dismissal due to pregnancy?
Dismissal due to pregnancy is considered a form of illegal sex discrimination. When an employer treats a job applicant or employee differently because of her pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions, they are breaking the law and can potentially face a lawsuit for their adverse actions.
What does the Pregnancy Discrimination Act protect?
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) protects job applicants and employees from discrimination based on pregnancy in any aspect of employment which includes hiring, firing, job assignments, pay, promotions, training, fringe benefits (such as leave and health insurance), layoffs, and any other terms or conditions of employment. Under this law, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations as they would for any employee with health conditions, disabilities, or injuries.