Pregnancy Discrimination

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California Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney Putting Pregnant Women First Representing pregnant women against employers

Pregnancy based discrimination or harassment is illegal in all aspects of employment. An employer is prohibited from refusing to hire or promote an individual because of her pregnancy, terminating a pregnant employee because of her pregnancy or taking any other adverse employment action against an employee because she is pregnant.

Although we are in the 21st century and women have a strong presence in the workplace, employers still discriminate against them in discreet ways, especially when they find out a woman employee is pregnant. Similar to when employer’s make baseless assumptions about a person based on their race, ethnicity, or religion, employer’s make assumptions about women employees who become pregnant.

For example, a manager who finds out a worker is pregnant may be congratulatory on the one hand but concerned about the pregnant employee’s ability to complete her work on the other hand. An employer may believe that a women’s pregnancy will negatively impact its business because the pregnant employee may miss some days of work due to pregnancy sickness or doctor’s appointments. The employer might anticipate that the pregnant employee’s productivity will decline, or that she may take a leave of absence and leave the employer short -staffed.

Of course, pregnancy is known to come with its own set of variables for both pregnant women and employers. Regardless of whether employer’s preconceived notions about pregnant women in the workplace are reasonable, unreasonable, accurate or inaccurate, they are nonetheless unlawful. Employers may make certain conclusions or predictions upon notice of an employee’s pregnancy, but an employer is prohibited from acting on those assumptions and mistreating pregnant employees during and after their pregnancy.

The reality is that like many other assumptions employer’s make about other protected classes, the assumptions employer’s make about pregnant employees are inaccurate. While some pregnant employees do endure morning sickness, have doctors’ appointments, or other pregnancy related responsibilities, a vast majority of pregnant employees continue working straight through their pregnancy without issue.

The impact of pregnancy discrimination can be huge, especially when trying to start or add to a family. Nabati Law is an experienced employment law firm handling pregnancy discrimination cases throughout Los Angeles and California. No matter where in California an employee is located, Nabati Law provides legal representation to employees who have been wronged and discriminated against by their employer.

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Employer’s put themselves first.

Despite the fact that California and federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against pregnant women in the workplace, employer’s still do. Companies, corporations, employers, and other entities fearful that a pregnant woman will negatively impact their business, put their business first, and pregnant women second. Employer’s believe they are acting in the best interest of their company when they unlawfully mistreat pregnant employees for any pregnancy-related reason. Discriminatory employer practices against pregnant employees can include:

  • Firing a pregnant employee
  • Refusing to hire a pregnant employee
  • Inappropriately asking a female employee or prospective employee if and when she intends to become pregnant
  • Demoting a pregnant employee
  • Changing a pregnant employee’s job assignment without reason

Because employers are known to mistreat pregnant women by refusing to hire them, failing to promote them, or terminating them altogether, women become fearful about revealing their pregnancy at work because they are afraid of being treated differently or fired. Oftentimes, a pregnant employee’s job may be her only source of income, making her even more afraid to share the news with her employer. A pregnant woman knows her and her future child’s livelihood may be at risk if her employer is unkind or disapproving of the impact her pregnancy may have on business.

Doctor holding a baby ultrasound on a tablet

California & Federal Laws Protect Pregnant Women from Discrimination

Women should not have to decide between having a child or a job. California and federal laws protect women from pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. An employer is forbidden from mistreating an employee, who was or is pregnant, throughout each stage of her pregnancy and after delivery.

Federal Pregnancy Laws Protecting Pregnant Women

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against women on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a pregnancy-related medical condition. The PDA applies to public employers, including federal, state and local government agencies, and private employers with 15 or more employees.

The PDA forbids employers from:

  • Refusing to hire a competent woman, capable of performing major job functions, because of a pregnancy-related condition
  • Refusing to hire a pregnant woman because of the employer’s, customer’s, client’s, or co-worker’s prejudices against pregnant women
  • Denying a pregnant employee equal pay, fringe benefits, or job opportunities, including assignments, promotions, and training
  • Requiring a pregnant woman to remain on leave until her baby is born
  • Instituting a rule that prohibits women from returning to work for a set amount of time after childbirth
  • Refusing to grant a pregnant employee temporary disability leave if other employees are given the same right
  • Refusing to hold a job open for an employee who is on a pregnancy-related absence for the same amount of time that the employer holds jobs open for employees on disability or sick leave
  • Singling out pregnancy-related conditions for medical clearance procedures that are not required of other employees

The PDA also grants women with pregnancy related conditions the same or similar protections as temporarily disabled employees or employees on leave for health conditions. If a pregnant woman becomes unable to perform the essential job functions of her job, an employer must make the same accommodations it would for a temporarily disabled employee who cannot perform some or all of his or her job functions due to a temporary disability. This may require the employer to make the following accommodations for pregnant employees:

  • Providing her with lighter duties
  • Modifying her job tasks
  • Assigning her alternative assignments
  • Offering her disability leave
  • Granting her leave with or without pay

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), also provides pregnant women protections in the workplace. The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees suffering from pregnancy-related health conditions. Pregnant employees may suffer from medical conditions as a result of their pregnancy and even sometimes after childbirth. Employers cannot discriminate against these pregnant employers experiencing medical conditions during pregnancy and after childbirth. Examples of medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth can include:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Back pain
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Lactation issues
  • Medical conditions that require bed rest

Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants eligible new parents, male or female, the right to receive three months of unpaid job-protected leave following childbirth. These three months can be used:

  • To care for his or her new child;
  • To go to doctors’ appointments for prenatal or postnatal care;
  • To receive treatment for serious health conditions that arose from pregnancy or childbirth;
  • For parental leave
  • If a parent is unable to work during pregnancy


An employee eligible for leave under FMLA must:

  1. Work for a covered employer
    • A covered employer includes:
      • Private sector employers with 50 or more employees
      • Public agency employees, regardless of the number or employees; or
      • Employees of an elementary or secondary school
  2. Work 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the leave
  3. Work at a location where 50 or more employees work or work within 75 miles of it
  4. Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months in total

FMLA leave is unpaid unless an employee has earned paid leave. If the employee has earned paid leave, the employer must grant the employee paid leave.

Pregnant woman in a pink skirt holding her belly

California Pregnancy Laws Protecting Pregnant Women

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits employers who have five or more workers from discriminating against women employees on the basis of pregnancy or childbirth. California state laws afford pregnant women similar protections to disabled employees. California pregnancy laws requires employers to provide pregnant women with reasonable accommodations when they have medical restrictions. For example, a pregnant woman who has a high-risk pregnancy may be prohibited from lifting heavy objects weighing more than 10 pounds. As such, she may request that her employer move her to another position that does not require her to lift heavy objects, or assistance in lifting heaver objects, or relieved of the duty to lift heavy objects altogether.

California law also requires employers to engage in a mandatory interactive process with pregnant employees who request an accommodation to determine whether the accommodation is reasonable.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of additional California pregnancy protections:

  • California law prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of pregnancy status
  • California law requires an employer to allow an employee disabled by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions to take a leave of absence from work and maintain her health insurance during that leave
  • California law mandates employers to provide pregnant employees reasonable accommodations when necessary and requested
  • California requires employers to engage in a mandatory interactive process with employees who require a reasonable accommodation as a result of being pregnant
  • Pursuant to the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law, employers are required to provide pregnant employees experiencing pregnancy-related conditions with up to four months of leave. An employee who is disabled by her pregnancy or has a pregnancy-related medical condition can request the leave incrementally or all at once before or after her pregnancy.
  • After childbirth, California law requires employers to grant employees medical leave for a reasonable amount of time. The California Family Rights Act grants a woman up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave following childbirth.
Pregnant woman holding her belly

Nabati Law Puts Pregnant Women First

If you have been discriminated against at work on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a pregnancy-related medical condition you may be entitled to recover compensation such as back pay, lost benefits, and damages for pain and suffering. Nabati Law is experienced in handling pregnancy discrimination cases and will put you first when your employer didn’t. If you were recently denied employment, denied work benefits or opportunities, were fired, or demoted, contact Nabati Law. Our California pregnancy discrimination law practice will provide you with all the information you need to know to protect your rights in the workplace and pursue your claim against your employer.

We understand that many cases of pregnancy discrimination may be more complex and may also be cases of gender discrimination or violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act. We look at all the facts relating to your case to determine all the relevant causes of actions.