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Pregnancy Discrimination at Workplace in California

Employees are protected against pregnancy discrimination at their workplace in California by both state and federal laws and the applicable law depends on the type of harm.

Pregnancy discrimination at the workplace happens when the employee or job applicant receives less favorable treatment because she is pregnant or may someday become pregnant.

Pregnancy discrimination in California can be in different forms including:

  • demotion
  • termination
  • failure to promote
  • failure to provide accommodation
  • failure to provide leave for pregnancy-related medical conditions
  • refusal to hire
  • refusal in job assignments
  • refusal in education and training;
  • refusal in bonuses and benefits

What Must the Employee Establish to Prove Pregnancy Discrimination?

The employee or job applicant will have to prove the following elements to establish that the employer engaged in unlawful discrimination:

  • Employer is an entity covered by applicable pregnancy discrimination laws;
  • Employer undertook a negative employment action against the employee
  • Employee’s or job applicant’s pregnancy, ability to become pregnant, pregnancy-related disability was the main reason for the employer’s action
  • Employer’s negative employment action caused harm to the employee

Laws Protecting Against Pregnancy Discrimination at the Workplace

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is a federal law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of childbirth, pregnancy, and related medical conditions. The law applies to employers with fifteen or more employees and according to this act women affected by a pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions must be treated equally for all employment-related purposes, including the receipt of benefits.

California Fair Employment and Housing Act

FEHA provides significant protection for pregnant employees. It also prohibits harassment and discrimination at the workplace based on pregnancy. But unlike federal law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act applies to employers with five or more employees and includes more businesses than federal law.

Additionally, if necessary FEHA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees disabled by their pregnancy. In some cases, this can include a period of leave which extends beyond the standard statutory guidelines.

Laws Protecting Pregnancy-Related Leave in California

Here are five main laws which provide leave rights to pregnant employees and new mothers:

  • The federal Family and Medical Leave Act
  • The California Fair Employment and Housing Act
  • California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law
  • The California Family Rights Act
  • The New Parent Leave Act.

Each of the above-mentioned laws has its own eligibility requirements, each of them provides leave under different circumstances and for different lengths of time,

California’s Pregnancy Leave Law

In addition to requiring 4 months of pregnancy leave, according to Pregnancy Leave Law employers are also required to:

  • Extend the pregnancy leave beyond 4 months using accrued sick leave and vacation time.
  • Hold the employee’s job for at least 4 months (in addition to the twelve weeks required by the California Family Rights Act).
  • Continue to pay the employer premiums for health insurance that were paid before the pregnancy leave.

KAASS Law can help employees with California pregnancy discrimination cases. Call us for a free telephone consultation where we will consider your situation to see if we can assist you.

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