Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers Near You
In California, employees are safeguarded by laws that prevent discrimination or harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit employers from interfering with an employee’s pregnancy-related rights in the workplace.
Leading Advocates for Pregnant Workers Across California
Our experienced Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination attorneys are committed to helping women and new parents stand up for their right to have children and earn a living wage.
We are one of the only firms in the state that specifically focuses on pregnancy discrimination cases. We are leaders in this field, and we are activists for working parents’ and pregnant employees’ rights. We take on a wide range of cases, including cases with a relatively small dollar value. We want to change the playing field so new mothers and all family caregivers can fairly compete in our economy.
We will not stop until employers no longer fire pregnant workers because hiring a temp is too much of a “hassle.” We will not stop until employers no longer fire pregnant employees to avoid paying for their medical insurance during their leave. We will not stop until firing you or discriminating against you is not just a “cost of doing business.”
If you believe you are being discriminated against in the workplace because you are or were pregnant, King & Siegel LLP welcomes you to call our legal team today at or contact us online for a free review of your case.
LAWS THAT PROTECT YOU AGAINST PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act took effect on June 27, 2023. This law requires employers to give reasonable accommodations to their pregnant employees. But you don’t have to depend on this law to assert your rights as an expecting parent in the workplace. Several state and federal laws protect employees who are parents, and these laws have been in effect for years.
LAWS AGAINST UNFAIR TREATMENT
An employer’s unequal or poor treatment of a pregnant person is unlawful, sex-based discrimination under Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Title VII and FEHA prohibit employers from taking adverse actions against their employees because of pregnancy, parental status, or pregnancy-related health needs (including needs associated with a pregnancy loss).
An employer could be liable under Title VII or FEHA if they do any of the following to an employee because of their pregnancy or parenting needs:
- Demote them,
- Reduce their pay or benefits,
- Harass them,
- Terminate them,
- Discipline them without reason,
- Exclude them from employment opportunities or events, or
- Subject them to undesirable assignments or transfers.
And if your employer punishes you for violating a company policy but does not punish non-pregnant employees for the same violations, that is illegal discrimination as well.
If you want to file a discrimination complaint under Title VII, your employer must have at least 15 employees, and you typically have 180 days to complain to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And if you want to file a complaint under FEHA, your employer must have at least five employees (or only one if the complaint is about sexual harassment), and you must initiate your complaint with the California Civil Rights Department within three years.
REQUIREMENTS TO ACCOMMODATE PREGNANT EMPLOYEES
Employers have an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act to accommodate the limitations that their employees face because of pregnancy or pregnancy-related disabilities. If a pregnant employee is qualified for a job but is unable to perform a non-essential work task, their employer needs to give them reasonable accommodation. This means your employer might have to give you extra break time, a more comfortable work area, assistance with heavy labor, or a modified schedule. If the accommodation is necessary and doesn’t create an undue burden (i.e., a burden that is too expensive or too disruptive) on your employer, your boss must provide it.
Whether a request for accommodation is “reasonable” is fact-specific. However, in any case, your employer is required to engage in the good faith interactive process to attempt to determine how to accommodate you.
JOB-PROTECTED LEAVE FOR PREGNANT EMPLOYEES AND NEW PARENTS
Sometimes pregnancy or new parenthood can prevent you from working altogether, but this reality does not give your employer the green light to fire or demote you. In California, the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL) allows all employees at employers with more than five employees to take up to four months of job-protected pregnancy disability leave. This leave is based on the duration of your pregnancy-related disability, but most doctors find that their pregnant patients are legally disabled for the four weeks prior to delivery and the six to eight weeks following delivery. Of course, if you have complications, your doctor may put you off work for additional time: if this happens, you have up to four months of job-protected leave.
In addition to the PDLL, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA) require an employer to provide an eligible employee up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave in a year to address serious health conditions (including pregnancy or pregnancy complications) or to welcome a new child into their home (commonly known as baby-bonding leave). In California, your time off under CFRA runs after your pregnancy disability leave. However, unlike disability leave, you must have worked for your employer for a year and 1,250 hours to be eligible for baby-bonding leave.
An employer has an obligation to maintain an employee’s benefits while they are on leave. And when an employee’s leave period is over, their employer must restore them to a position that is the same or similar. If an employer fails to follow these rules, they have committed pregnancy or parental status discrimination. You have to fulfill several eligibility criteria before you can take FMLA leave, so you should speak to a knowledgeable paternity or maternity leave attorney about your options for taking time off.
What Does Illegal Pregnancy Discrimination Look Like?
- 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. With few exceptions, your employer cannot terminate you while you are on maternity or parental leave.
- 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 if 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).
- Failure to Accommodate Work Restrictions: Your employer is required to make a good-faith effort to accommodate your pregnancy-related disabilities or work restrictions. This includes transfer to a less strenuous position, providing you with a modified work schedule, and providing you with modified equipment, among other things.
- Failure to Accommodate Disability or Baby-Bonding Leave: If you are pregnant or recently had a child, it is illegal for your employer to refuse to allow you to take leaves for medical appointments, for a pregnancy-related disability, or for bonding after your child’s birth.
- 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.
If you experienced discrimination due to your pregnancy or another type of employment law violation, contact us.
Common Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination
While pregnancy discrimination can take many forms, common instances of discrimination we help clients seek justice for include:
- An employer firing a pregnant woman for “performance issues” shortly before her maternity leave so they can hire a full-time, permanent replacement.
- An employer claiming 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 “eliminating” a pregnant employee’s position while they are on leave and hires a new employee for a similar role who isn’t pregnant.
- An employer demoting a pregnant worker so she will no longer be covered by the employer’s health plan during her maternity leave.
- An employer firing a pregnant worker so it does not have to pay for her child’s premiums on the employer’s health plan.
- An employer refusing to repurpose an empty office for a lactation room and instead forces a new parent to pump in the bathroom.
- An employer counting absences for pregnancy-related medical appointments against the employee under a “no-fault” attendance policy.
- An employer allowing its supervisors to mock a pregnant woman for being sick, being tired, or needing accommodations.
- An employer failing to order cheap and readily-available equipment to protect a pregnant worker.
- An employer refusing to allow a pregnant worker to sit down or take additional breaks
- An employer openly questioning whether female employees who recently gave birth continue to be sufficiently “devoted” to the business.
How to Complain About Denied Accommodations
First, you can make clear that your need for accommodation is urgent. Depending on the severity of your employer’s failure to accommodate, you can make clear that you will not work until legally compliant accommodations are granted.
Unfortunately, while you have legal rights, not much can be done to force your employer to comply with the law if they are intent on ignoring it. You may find yourself in a situation where you must choose between breastfeeding and working.
You should know that if you resign, you may still be able to pursue a wrongful termination case based on your employer’s failure to accommodate you. This is called a “constructive discharge.”
What if My Employer Broke the Rules?
If you believe you have experienced discrimination, harassment, or retaliation based on your pregnancy, or if you have been denied your right to leave, you can contact a Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination attorney
to help you file a discrimination claim or lawsuit. If you win your case, you can recover lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, legal fees, lost benefits, punitive damages, and injunctive relief.
HOW CAN AN ATTORNEY HELP WITH MY PREGNANCY OR PARENTAL STATUS DISCRIMINATION CASE?
A parent’s claim of unlawful employment discrimination is often valid but not always easy to navigate or prove. A pregnancy discrimination lawyer’s help is crucial to the success of a discrimination claim because a lawyer can do the following:
- Gather all evidence necessary to prove the claim;
- Identify the laws and solutions that apply to an employee’s unique circumstances;
- Preserve an employee’s rights by timely filing all claim paperwork; and
- Maximize an employee’s damages by making the best arguments to employers, judges, juries, or administrators.
When seeking an advocate, you should choose an attorney with a specific focus on pregnancy discrimination. They will be familiar with the complicated leave laws at play, the common medical issues that arise, and the damage that pregnancy discrimination does to the families suffering from it.
Our office provides free case reviews for all potential pregnancy discrimination clients. This is a specialty area of practice and for us and one that we are deeply passionate about.