Los Angeles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer
Employers are prohibited from making work decisions based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions. Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer treats an applicant or employee unfairly because she is pregnant, has given birth, is breastfeeding or has a medical condition relevant to pregnancy or childbirth. Such discrimination is forbidden in all areas of employment, including, but not limited to, hiring, termination, compensation, assignments, promotions, training and fringe benefits. Employers cannot refuse to provide time off or reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, nor can they force time off or restrictions on work, nor fire or demote a woman because of an employee’s pregnancy or related condition. Pregnancy discrimination violates numerous state and federal laws.
Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Employees
Under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers must give pregnant employees the same reasonable workplace accommodations provided to workers with temporary disabilities due to health conditions. For instance, if an employer would allow an employee recovering from surgery to work part-time or to work remotely from home, that employer would likely be required to provide the same accommodations to a pregnant employee with similar work restrictions related to her health condition. Other important laws providing protection against pregnancy discrimination include the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Pregnancy-related health conditions that may require an accommodation might include, for instance, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or restrictions on movement such as bed rest. A pregnant employee may have a right to be engaged in light duty work assignments, receive a temporary transfer to another job, or obtain other accommodations.
Like reasonable accommodations related to other disabilities, employers must engage in a timely, good faith interactive process as soon as they know that a person may need a reasonable accommodation. As long as the person, employer, and disability qualify for ADA protection, the employer must provide accommodations if, with those accommodations, the individual is able to complete the essential functions or duties of the job, unless the accommodations would result in a significant expense. You can read more about your right to reasonable accommodations by visiting our Disability Discrimination webpage.
Time Off From Work
Employers must also allow employees to take time off for pregnancy-related medical conditions, childbirth, and bonding with the infant. Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers with over 50 employees are required to allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off work for medical reasons related to pregnancy and childbirth.
California state law also requires employers to provide unpaid time off due to pregnancy disability, including the period of time before and after childbirth when the employee is physically unable to work due to pregnancy and childbirth, as well as for parenting leave. California laws, including the California Family Rights Act, apply to smaller employers and may require additional time off than what is required under FMLA. Under California law, employers are required to offer a maximum of four months of unpaid time off to employees who cannot work because of pregnancy, childbirth and associated conditions.
Other Rights Related to Pregnancy
Women also have other rights related to pregnancy and motherhood. An employer cannot terminate an employee due to pregnancy or a pregnancy-related disability. An employer also is prohibited from making promotional and hiring decisions based on a woman’s pregnancy. In addition, California employers are prohibited from discriminating against women for breastfeeding. An employer must provide a reasonable unpaid break time to allow a woman to express breast milk, unless such a break would seriously disrupt the business. Employers must also make reasonable efforts to provide a mother with a private space close to her work area, other than a bathroom, to express breast milk.
Damages for Pregnancy Discrimination
If you are successful in a lawsuit challenging pregnancy discrimination, one available remedy is reinstatement, in which you can request that the court order your employer to let you have your job back. However, due to the potentially hostile relationship between employee and employer, it is more prevalent to request money damages as compensation. Such damages could include:
- Back pay
- Lost benefits
- Out-of-pocket losses
- Front pay
- Court costs and attorney’s fees
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
Have you Faced Pregnancy Discrimination?
If you believe you were discriminated against by your employer because of pregnancy, you will need to prove that you were treated differently than other employees who were similarly situated because of your pregnancy. To preserve your right to sue, you may need to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. There are strict deadlines you will need to follow, both to file the charge of discrimination and for filing a lawsuit afterward.
You should speak with a seasoned Los Angeles employment attorney, who can counsel you today as to whether you have a valid case and the potential value of your claim. Please contact Strong Advocates for a complimentary legal case analysis. Call us at (800) 870-9886 or complete the online form on our website to find out how we can help you.