The months leading up to childbirth should be filled with joyful anticipation. But for many working people, pregnancy marks the beginning of discrimination, not celebration.
Despite legal protections, expecting parents continue to face adverse treatment from managers and coworkers. At TONG LAW, we’ve seen the full spectrum of pregnancy discrimination – denied accommodations, harassing comments, and even termination.
No mother should have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and keeping her job. But insensitive employers force this choice every day. They disregard doctors’ orders, refuse simple accommodations, and buy into stereotypes about pregnant women being less committed. It’s frustrating, frightening, and, above all, illegal.
Both federal and California laws prohibit pregnancy-based discrimination in the workplace. Employers are obligated to support expecting and new mothers through reasonable accommodations and job-protected leave. If your employer has failed to provide the accommodations and support guaranteed by law, TONG LAW’s California pregnancy discrimination lawyers are here to help.
Understanding Your Rights as an Expecting Mother
Whether you are currently employed or applying for a new job, California and federal law provide important protections against pregnancy discrimination. While subtle bias still persists in some workplaces, outright discrimination is prohibited throughout the hiring process and during employment.
Your Rights as an Employee
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is a federal law amending Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions. This includes any medical needs arising before or after childbirth. Employers are required to treat pregnant employees the same as any other temporarily disabled employee.
California law provides additional protections, requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. Common accommodations include:
- Time off for prenatal appointments
- Temporarily modified duties
- Periods of leave for childbirth and recovery
Accommodations must be granted unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer. Employers with five or more employees must abide by California’s pregnancy discrimination laws.
Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth or adoption of a child. To qualify for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and completed at least 1,250 hours in the past year.
For many new mothers, FMLA provides invaluable job security and time to physically recover from childbirth and bond with their newborn. Employees who have contributed to state disability insurance may also qualify for eight weeks of partial pay through California’s Paid Family Leave program during their FMLA leave.
Your Rights as a Job Applicant
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act not only protects current employees but also applies to women applying for jobs while pregnant. Employers cannot refuse to hire applicants because of pregnancy or due to pregnancy-related conditions. Doing so constitutes illegal discrimination.
California law takes this further by prohibiting employers from asking applicants about their pregnancy status or family plans during interviews. Interview questions cannot be used to ascertain pregnancy if it would negatively influence hiring decisions.
Subtle and Overt Discrimination Against Pregnant Employees
Unfortunately, pregnant employees often face negative attitudes and stereotypes, even when their employers strive to follow the law. Some common forms of subtle discrimination include:
- Being passed over for promotions or good projects
- Co-workers or managers making critical or harassing comments
- Inflexible policies around leave and accommodations
- Assumptions that pregnant staff are less committed to their careers
More overt pregnancy discrimination includes:
- Firing an employee because she is pregnant
- Denying reasonable accommodations recommended by a doctor
- Reducing an employee’s hours or demoting them upon becoming pregnant
Situations like these are unacceptable under the law. No expecting mother should have to choose between her job and a healthy pregnancy.
Taking Legal Action With the Help of a Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer
Have you been treated unfairly at work due to pregnancy or a related medical condition? TONG LAW can help. With extensive experience handling employment discrimination cases, our law firm is deeply knowledgeable about California’s protections for pregnant women.
The first step is thoroughly documenting your situation. We’ll help gather relevant emails, performance reviews, company policies, and other evidence. Witness accounts will also be critical.
Next, we’ll assess your options. These often include filing discrimination charges with the EEOC or California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. We may also negotiate with your employer directly to reach a settlement. If needed, our firm can take your pregnancy discrimination case to court.
In a discrimination lawsuit, a discrimination attorney must demonstrate how an employer’s actions violated specific laws that protect pregnant and postpartum employees. With our dedication to employee rights, TONG LAW works zealously to build an ironclad case.
Don’t Face Pregnancy Discrimination Alone – Contact Our Team Today
If you believe your rights as an expecting or new mother have been violated, we are here to help. Our employment attorneys have the experience and passion for upholding employees’ rights needed to tackle these complex cases.
We’ve helped many California women fight back when their employers failed to make reasonable accommodations, denied leave, demoted them unreasonably, wrongfully terminated their employment, or committed other acts of discrimination. Don’t wait to get in touch – the sooner we can start building your case, the better positioned we’ll be to recover maximum compensation.
Contact us today for a confidential consultation to learn more about how we can help protect your rights as a pregnant or postpartum employee.