Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers in Los Angeles
Our experienced employment discrimination attorneys at King & Siegel LLP are committed to helping clients throughout Los Angeles assert their rights to make a living and have a family. Pregnancy discrimination can be based on an employee's pregnancy, medical conditions related to pregnancy, or recent childbirth.
In California, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee for any of these pregnancy-related reasons:
- Hiring Discrimination: It is illegal to fire or not hire someone because they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. In fact, employers are prohibited from asking female applicants whether they are pregnant or intend to become pregnant. However, many employers continue to ask job applicants about pregnancies and decline to hire pregnant women.
- Discrimination in Job Duties: It is illegal for your employer to demote you or change your job assignment due to your pregnancy. Your employer must also let you work as long as you can perform your job and must allow you to return to work if you have been absent due to pregnancy or pregnancy-related health conditions (although they can require a medical certification to return to work).
- Wrongful Termination: It is illegal for your employer to fire you for having a child, being pregnant, or planning to become pregnant. Your employer also cannot terminate you because of “pregnancy-related medical conditions,” like being on bedrest, postpartum depression, or breastfeeding.
- Medical Discrimination: If you are pregnant or plan to be pregnant, it is illegal for your employer to refuse to allow you to take leaves for medical appointments or if you need ongoing leave for health reasons.
- Pay Discrimination: It is illegal for your employer to pay you less because you recently had a child, because you are pregnant, or because you plan to become pregnant.
While pregnancy discrimination can take many forms, common instances of discrimination we help clients seek justice for include:
- An employer claims that a pregnant employee’s performance, "focus," or "dedication" has slipped since they had a child or became pregnant and denies them promotions or bonuses.
- An employer "eliminates" a pregnant employee’s position while they are on leave and hires a new employee for a similar role who isn’t pregnant.
- Many employers openly question whether female employees who recently gave birth continue to be sufficiently "devoted" to the business.
Do I have a right to accommodations at work on account of my pregnancy?
If you are pregnant and need reasonable accommodations at work, your employer is required to engage in an interactive process and attempt to accommodate your needs. For instance, if your doctor has advised you that you cannot lift heavy boxes, cannot spend time in extreme heat, cannot spend hours on your feet without a break, or other pregnancy-related health advisories, then you can ask your employer to accommodate you by relieving you of particular duties or transitioning you to a temporary position of comparable status and pay. If your employer fails to accommodate you, you may have a cause of action for pregnancy discrimination.
Do I have a right to paid or unpaid leave?
The California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law authorizes up to four months' unpaid leave for employees disabled by pregnancy-related medical conditions. For example, if you are instructed to remain on bed rest, or if you have medical complications resulting from childbirth, you may be entitled to up to four months' unpaid leave due to your temporary disability. Your employer cannot terminate or discipline you for exercising this right. Leave under the PDDL can be used before or after childbirth, as long as the medical condition is pregnancy-related. In addition to an employee's rights under the PDDL, the California Family Rights Act and New Parents Leave Act requires employers with 20 or more employees within a 75-mile radius to allow new parents up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. This right applies to new parents of any gender, and employers are prohibited from canceling group health coverage during parental leave. If you have a pregnancy-related disability, your employer may be required to grant additional leave beyond what's required by the PDDL and New Parents' Leave Act. Although there is no requirement that employers provide paid parental leave, you can receive partial wages, up to 70% or a cap of approximately $1,200, for six weeks through California's paid family leave program.
What are my rights if I’m breastfeeding?
All California employers are required to accommodate the needs of breastfeeding employees by ensuring access to adequate facilities for breastfeeding or expressing breast milk. In general, the law does not require employers to allow employees to breastfeed their infants at work. However, employees are entitled to breaks throughout the day to express breast milk. As long as you are nursing, you may take breaks to express breast milk. Your employer also must provide you with a private room or space in which to express breast milk. A toilet stall is not adequate for breastfeeding purposes. Moreover, you cannot be harassed on account of pumping or breastfeeding.
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Few employment law firms specialize in pregnancy discrimination cases. These cases often involve specific medical issues unique to pregnant workers and require an attorney to interpret a maze of complicated leave laws. We are passionate about pregnancy-related discrimination cases and devote a large portion of our practice to this specialized set of cases. Statistics show that women earn about the same as men until they have children, when the wage gaps immediately hits women the hardest. The only way to stop this pattern is to stand up to pregnancy discrimination when it happens. We are here to help.