Pregnancy should be a happy and exciting part of life for you and your entire family. Unfortunately, for many women in today’s workforce, that happiness and excitement is tinged with worry and concern. Perhaps you are nervous that your employer will not take the news well — or perhaps you have already been treated unfairly because of your pregnancy. If this is the case, you should know that there are legal protections on your side. Both Federal and California state laws expressly forbid discrimination against women who are pregnant or who become pregnant during employment. The balance of this article will discuss the rights you have as a pregnant employee or job candidate.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits any employer with at least 5 employees from discriminating against an employee due to pregnancy, childbirth, and any health conditions related to these events. (California Code of Regulations § 11039[a]) This means that your employer cannot legally fire you simply because you are pregnant or become pregnant. It also covers other forms of discrimination, such as assigning employees to less desirable tasks due to stereotypes about pregnant women or refusing to hire pregnant women altogether.
FEHA Also Obligates Employers to Provide Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Employees. This means respecting any medical restrictions, and making options such as light work, reduced hours, or a temporary job transfer available when necessary. (California Government Code §12940[a][a]) Pregnancy discrimination can often be quite subtle as unfortunately, employers have become quite adept in terms of covering up their hidden biases. Some warning signs of pregnancy or other discrimination include either a reluctance or complete failure to provide reasonable accommodations, being repeatedly denied promotions or key job assignments even though you are the most qualified and interview questions which implicitly relate to how you will deal with the issue of childcare. As pregnancy discrimination can be so subtle, it is important to document each incident shortly after it occurs so that you will have a written record of your employer’s conduct throughout your work career. Similarly, a complaint to human resources will require your employer to investigate the improper conduct to take the steps reasonably necessary to create a discrimination-free work environment. Although you may be concerned that you may be retaliated against for complaining of perceived or actual discrimination, The Fair Employment & Housing Act prohibits your employer from taking any type of adverse action against you for reporting such conduct. (California Government Code §12940[h]).
The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) Guarantee the Right to Take Unpaid Leave. The sum total of time off can reach up to 12 weeks and may occur for reasons such as prenatal care, inability to work due to morning sickness or medically-mandated bed rest, serious health conditions, and parental leave. The state of California also offers a temporary disability insurance program that funds pregnancy-related leave and disability.
Has Your Employer Failed to Respect Your Legal Rights During Pregnancy? We can help get you the compensation you deserve. Contact Perrin Law Group today for more information and a free consultation.