For many women, a pregnancy is a joyful event, but unfortunately, too many employers still see pregnancy as an inconvenience, and women who are pregnant are still sometimes the targets of employment discrimination.

If you are pregnant or become pregnant, what are your rights? Can a San Francisco harassment attorney help?

If you are employed in the state of California, keep reading to learn more about your rights as a pregnant employee.

No one in 2018 should have to deal with pregnancy discrimination.

In every state, when employers treat a job applicant or employee differently because that person is pregnant, it is against the law.

If you are facing pregnancy discrimination at your own workplace in California, it should not be tolerated, and a California employment rights attorney can help.

WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS OF PREGNANT EMPLOYEES?

Legally speaking, in all fifty states, employers must treat pregnant women exactly as they treat other employees or job applicants who cannot perform their jobs for short periods of time.

An employer may not deny employment to a woman because she is pregnant, and an employer cannot terminate an employee’s job or remove any benefits or accrued seniority because the employee is pregnant or takes a maternity leave.

Employment discrimination based on pregnancy is against the law in California and every other state, so if you believe that you are or have been a target of employment discrimination based on pregnancy, you should discuss your legal rights and options immediately with an experienced San Francisco employment rights attorney.

Your attorney can review your situation and recommend your best legal option – which might include an employment discrimination lawsuit.

HOW ARE THE RIGHTS OF PREGNANT EMPLOYEES LEGALLY PROTECTED?

Two federal laws protect pregnant employees in every state. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to “prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.”

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, however, only provides protection from employment discrimination; it provides no benefits, and it covers only those employers with fifteen or more employees.

A second federal law, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), requires most employers with fifty or more employees to provide up to twelve unpaid weeks of leave after the birth or adoption of a child.

A pregnant employee is eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act if she has worked for the employer for at least twelve months and for at least 1,250 hours in the preceding twelve months.

While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act applies only to employers with fifteen or more employees, and the Family and Medical Leave Act covers only those employers with fifty or more employees, millions of employees across the United States do not qualify to enjoy these federal legal protections simply because they are employed by smaller employers.

HOW DO STATE LAWS PROTECT EMPLOYEES IN CALIFORNIA?

In California, state law tries to bridge the gap and provide more legal protection to all pregnant workers. Starting in 2018, under the California Paid Family Care Leave Act, employees who take family leave can receive up to 70 percent of their wages for up to six weeks to care for a new child, a newly-adopted child, a foster child, or an ailing family member.

Over 1.5 million employees in California have taken paid leave to care for a child or a sick relative since 2004.

And if a pregnancy or a pregnancy-related medical complication means that an employee cannot work for longer than six weeks, the employee may be eligible for another four months of leave through this state’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Act, which provides family leave to pregnant employees in California who are covered by a health insurance plan, without regard to the size of the company or the employee’s length of employment.

In California, you cannot be fired for taking family leave if you are entitled to it.

California employers may not harass, discriminate, demote, retaliate, or take action of any kind against employees who request and take FMLA leave, Paid Family Care leave, and pregnancy, disability, or military caregiver leaves.

If you are planning any type of leave, give your employer appropriate notice, and complete any paperwork that is required to have the leave approved.

WHAT CAN VICTIMS OF PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION DO?

If you are or were employed in California, and if you were denied leave or discriminated against in any other way because you are or were pregnant, discuss your rights and options with a skilled San Francisco employment rights attorney.

If you are or have been a target of pregnancy discrimination, and if you are considering legal action against your employer, these recommendations may help:

Keep a record of everything that you believe is evidence of discrimination.

Put it in writing and make several copies. Always submit leave requests in writing and try to get written responses.

If you file a discrimination lawsuit, your notes, documents, and copies could become evidence, so store them securely.

Don’t try to act as an attorney, and don’t argue with your employer about the law.

Your questions regarding pregnancy discrimination and family leave can be answered by a California employment rights attorney.

If you take legal action, or if you need to learn more before making that decision, an employment rights lawyer can help.

California’s employment rights and anti-discrimination laws are perhaps the most thoroughgoing in the nation.

In this state, pregnancy is one of a number of “legally protected characteristics” that also include marital status, sex, age, sexual orientation, religion, race, ancestry, national origin, physical disability, and mental disability.

If an employer has violated any of your employment rights in California, you may be entitled to:

– compensatory damages
– reinstatement and back pay
– retroactive benefits and seniority
– attorney fees and court costs

WHY WILL PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION VICTIMS NEED AN ATTORNEY’S HELP?

If you are or have been a victim of employment discrimination based on pregnancy, a California employment rights lawyer can walk you through the legal steps you’ll need to take.

For instance, before you may bring an employment discrimination claim in this state, your right to sue must first be approved by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and/or by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

California employment discrimination cases are legally complicated, but they provide workers with considerable legal protection.

A pregnancy discrimination case must be managed by an employment attorney from the very beginning.

If you are a victim of employment discrimination, you have the right to seek justice.

Get the experienced legal help you need, and be assured that in California, the law is on your side.

By: Fred Geonetta

Frederick J. Geonetta is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of Law. His legal practice is entirely devoted to litigation. Mr. Geonetta has spent the past 25 years in private practice representing both plaintiffs and defendants who have been harmed or wronged by the actions of others or who have been falsely accused of causing harm to others. He represents clients across the U.S. and international clients who seek U.S. legal advice or representation.