Being a working expecting mother is challenging under the best of circumstances. The last thing you need during your pregnancy or while caring for a newborn is to be hassled by your job because of your growing family. Unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination is common.
What is Pregnancy Discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee or job applicant unfavorably because of pregnancy or childbirth. Employers who engage in discrimination violate various federal and state laws. These include the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. People who experience pregnancy discrimination can report the employer to regulators and file a civil lawsuit to recover compensation.
Types of Pregnancy Discrimination Cases We Handle
The Sacramento pregnancy discrimination lawyers at King & Siegel LLP are skilled litigators and experts in pregnancy discrimination laws.
Refusing a Pregnant Candidate
Some employers refuse to hire pregnant individuals because they believe their upcoming maternity leave will interfere with work. This form of discrimination is doubly problematic because some pregnant workers have been wrongfully terminated from past jobs as a result of pregnancy discrimination and then find themselves job searching shortly before their due date.
While it is challenging to prove that an employer failed to hire a candidate due to their pregnancy, our attorneys have successfully proven these claims in numerous cases. It is critical to obtain as much documentation as possible of the job search process and to maintain records of all communications with your prospective employer.
State and federal laws mandate employers provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. These accommodations ensure that employees can perform their duties without risking their health. Employers must provide accommodations unless doing so would cause undue hardship.
Accommodations for pregnant employees may include:
Flexible Work Schedule:
- Adjusting work hours to accommodate fatigue, morning sickness, or medical appointments.
- Allowing a modified or compressed workweek.
- Allowing the employee to work from home, either on a temporary or permanent basis.
Modifying Job Duties:
- Adjusting non-essential job tasks that may be physically demanding or pose a risk to the employee or the unborn child.
- Providing a Stool or Chair: Allowing the employee to sit instead of standing for long periods, especially in jobs that involve standing.
- Providing Additional Breaks: Allowing extra breaks to rest, use the restroom, or address other pregnancy-related needs.
- Adjusting Workspace: Providing a more comfortable chair or ergonomic workstation and creating a designated rest area.
- Temporary Transfer or Light Duty: Offering a temporary transfer to a less physically demanding role & providing light-duty assignments that accommodate medical restrictions.
- Access to Water and Snacks: Allowing the employee to keep water and snacks at their workstation to manage nausea or hunger.
- Modified Uniforms: Allowing modifications to uniforms to accommodate changing body size.
- Providing Lifting Assistance: Arranging for assistance with lifting heavy objects.
- Access to a Private Space for Nursing or Pumping: Providing a private, comfortable space for breastfeeding or pumping milk.
- Adjusting Temperature Control: Allowing the employee to adjust the temperature of their workspace to address comfort levels.
- Ensuring Accessible Restrooms: Ensuring that restroom facilities are easily accessible.
- Allowing Additional Time Off: Granting additional time off for medical appointments or rest when needed.
Harassment against pregnant employees can create a hostile work environment. Harassment can include:
- Offensive remarks,
- Derogatory comments,
- Inappropriate jokes, or
- Uncomfortable behaviors.
Sometimes these comments manifest as sexual harassment. For instance, co-workers or supervisors may make uncomfortable comments about an employee’s changing body or about breastfeeding employees. Employers owe a duty to their employees to prevent this conduct.
Retaliation is any adverse action against an employee in response to their involvement in protected activities.
For example, if a pregnant employee files a complaint against her superior, the employer and superior might retaliate by filing complaints against the employee or changing their work duties. This retaliation is meant to punish the employee for speaking up.
FMLA and CFRA Violations
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that grants eligible employees the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave. It includes leave for specific family and medical reasons, including pregnancy and childbirth. California’s Family Rights Act (CFRA) similarly permits eligible employees to take 12 weeks of job-protected leave for baby bonding.
Under the FMLA and CFRA, eligible employees have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period for:
- The birth of a child,
- The employee’s own serious health condition related to pregnancy, or
- The care for a newborn.
Termination Due to Pregnancy
Depending on the circumstances, pregnant employees may receive benefits and pay while on leave. Employers who want to save money dislike paying for these benefits while the employee is out of the office. These employers might try to fire the employee or force them to resign. Similarly, employers may stereotype pregnant employees or new mothers as less dedicated employees and seek to fire them on this basis.
Damages for Pregnancy Discrimination Claims
Discrimination causes a range of harm, from financial hardship to emotional stress. Filing a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit can help you get compensation for these damages.
Compensation can include:
- Back pay and lost wages,
- Front pay for future losses,
- Lost benefits,
- Out-of-pocket expenses,
- Pain and suffering, and
- Punitive damages.
On top of these damages, a court may order the defendant to pay your reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs of suit.
How King & Siegel LLP Can Help You
Our employment attorneys offer various services to assist victims of pregnancy discrimination. We’re committed to advocating for your rights and ensuring fair treatment in the workplace.
Here’s how we can support you:
- Legal Consultation. Our team provides comprehensive case evaluations to assess your situation. We help you understand your rights and determine the best course of action.
- Support in Accommodation Requests. If your employer doesn’t provide accommodations, we can assist in making requests for adjustments. These can include modified duties, schedule changes, and other adjustments.
- Evidence Gathering. We conduct thorough investigations and gather evidence to support your case. Our team works hard to establish a clear link between discriminatory acts and your harm.
- Negotiation. In some cases, negotiating with your employer can lead to a fair result outside the courtroom. Our attorneys will handle this process and advise whether accepting a settlement offer is in your best interest.
- Litigation. As proven trial attorneys, we do not hesitate to take a claim to court. Our attorneys will present your case to the judge or jury to advocate for fair compensation.
The attorneys at King & Siegel LLP provide comprehensive legal support and fight for our clients. Let us handle the legal process so you can focus on your newborn and career.
Schedule a Case Evaluation
The award-winning employment attorneys at King & Siegel LLP have recovered millions for our clients. We understand the complexities of pregnancy discrimination cases and know how to show liability and maximize damages. Call King & Siegel LLP to speak with our Sacramento pregnancy discrimination lawyers.