Will I lose job opportunities at work when I’m pregnant?

June 26, 2019

Pregnant women shouldn’t have to fear losing their jobs or being passed up for a promotion as a result of their pregnancy. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was put in place to provide those very employees with protection from these wrongful acts. The PDA prohibits employers from discriminating against woman in making employment decisions as result of their pregnancy. An employer cannot make hiring, firing, compensation, job assignment or promotion decisions based on whether or not someone is pregnant.

Pregnancy Accommodations

Federal and state law both mandate that employees who are expecting a child, are entitled to request necessary accommodations and cannot be discriminated against for requesting them. In terms of federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act provides these protections for pregnant employees. While most states provide similar protections. In California, the state law is more expansive than of Title VII. While Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, California law applies to any employer with 5 or more employees.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “A reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability. While there are some things that are not considered reasonable accommodations (e.g., removal of an essential job function or personal use items such as a hearing aid that is needed on and off the job), reasonable accommodations can cover most things that enable an individual to apply for a job, perform a job, or have equal access to the workplace and employee benefits such as kitchens, parking lots, and office events.”

Some common types of accommodations that are listed by the EEOC include, “modifying work schedules or supervisory methods, granting breaks or providing leave, altering how or when job duties are performed or removing and/or substituting C marginal function.”

Can I take Maternity Leave?

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act states that employees should be allowed up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after they have given birth. The Family and Medical Leave Act only applies to public businesses and those private businesses that have more than 50 employees. Generally, an employee must have worked 1,250 hours in the past year for the employer and at least 12 months in total to qualify for pregnancy leave.

An employee has to give their employer 30 days’ notice prior to taking the leave. On some occasions, the employees state, may have more generous pregnancy leave laws. For example, California has a paid leave law that provides new mothers partial pay for a specified period of time after giving birth.  On the other occasions, an employer may have their own rules that provide additional benefits. This is not always the case, but may be applicable in some situations.

Pregnancy Harassment  and Discrimination

According to the EEOC, “It is unlawful to harass a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.” An employer cannot discriminate against or harass an employee because they are pregnant.

The law protects employees from harassment in the workplace, no matter who the harasser is. An employer can be liable for harassment by supervisors, co-workers and even their customers. Once an employer is notified of the harassment, they have a legal duty to take steps in order for the harassment to stop.

If an employee feels that they are being subjected to discrimination and harassment  in the workplace because of their pregnancy,  then they should consult with an attorney who is experienced in labor law immediately. The laws governing retaliation are complex. There are strict regulations governing the process for filing a lawsuit. Furthermore, there are strict time restrictions, known as statute of limitations, as to when a lawsuit can be filed. The experienced attorneys at Shegerian Conniff are ready to hold your employer accountable, fight for your legal rights, and seek justice.  Click here to contact us today or call us at 310-322-7500 for a free consultation.