Orange County Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers
Pregnancy Should Not Affect Your Employment Status
Being pregnant should be a joyful and happy occasion. Unfortunately, many women are met with pregnancy discrimination in the workplace instead.
Discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions is prohibited by law. Employers must grant pregnant employees unpaid disability leave of up to four months for the time they are disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
It is also unlawful to refuse to grant requests for temporary transfer or reasonable accommodation to pregnant employees (Government Code §12945(b)).
Pregnancy Discrimination Statistics
According to data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor:
- From 2010 to 2020, the EEOC received 37,142 charges of pregnancy discrimination.
- 4,487 of these charges resulted in settlements.
- $173.9 million in benefits were paid related to pregnancy discrimination cases during this time, excluding monetary benefits obtained through litigation.
- 85% of working women will become mothers at some point during their careers.
What Is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was passed by Congress in 1978 as an amendment to The Civil Rights Act of 1964. PDA applies to all employees, regardless of their length of time at a specific employer, so long as the company employees at least 15 people. Despite this being in place for nearly 40 years now, women still continue to face workplace discrimination due to pregnancy, or pregnancy-related issues.
What Are Pregnancy Discrimination Violations?
If you are pregnant (or may become pregnant), you may be wondering what pregnancy discrimination looks like and how you can protect yourself from experiencing it. Here are some of the most important facts to know about pregnancy discrimination at work.
Employers may not (because of pregnancy):
- Refuse to hire or promote an employee
- Terminate an employee
- Ask interview questions that they would not ask non-pregnant applicants
- Require employees to give notice of pregnancy (unless it is for a legitimate business purpose)
- Discriminate against those who may become pregnant
- Stop a pregnant employee from working if they want to and are physically able
- Discriminate against an employee that had or considered having an abortion
- Demand medical notes from a pregnant employee's doctor concerning work status if they do not require them from non-pregnant employees on short term disability leave
Additionally, employers may not retaliate against an employee/applicant that makes a complaint because they feel they may have been discriminated against. Retaliation could be termination, demotion, or lowering of pay to name a few examples.
FMLA vs. California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
California law differs from the FMLA in the way pregnancy is treated. Under the FMLA, pregnant employees receive a maximum of 12 weeks of leave for time off needed before, during, and after the birth of the child so long as they have worked for the employer at least one year, during which time they worked at least 1,250 hours. Additionally, the company must employ at least 50 people within a 75-mile radius. California law, however, provides time off under CFRA and for pregnancy disability leave that runs separately from FMLA leave and can amount to as much as seven months. (Government Code §12945.2(s); 2 Cal. Code Regs. §7291.13).
Female employees disabled by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions are entitled to up to four months of leave (Government Code §12945(b)(2)). Pregnancy disability leave is available regardless of how long the employee has been employed, and it applies to any employer with five or more employees (Government Code §12926(d); 2 Cal. Code Regs. §7291.2(h)).
A woman is only entitled to the actual amount of time off she needs due to an actual disability which renders her unable to perform her job. Most women will not be entitled to the full four months unless they have a medically-complicated pregnancy. Pregnant employees are also entitled to transfer temporarily to a less strenuous or less hazardous position for the duration of the pregnancy, on the advice of a physician, if the transfer can be reasonably accommodated (Government Code §12945(a)(3)).
In addition to the four-month disability leave, employees qualifying for CFRA leave may also take an additional twelve weeks of family leave following the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child for “baby bonding.” Pregnancy disability leave does not run concurrently with CFRA or FMLA leave, although CFRA and FMLA leave generally do run concurrently with one another (Government Code §12945.2(s)).
The eligibility requirements for CFRA and FMLA are the same. Both allow employees to take time off to care for either themselves or a family member. Each includes same-sex spouses in the eligibility, but only CFRA includes eligibility for Registered-Domestic Partners.
ODD Employer Exemptions
Some courts have held that you can be treated differently depending on where you work if you are unmarried and pregnant. It has been stated that religious organizations or ones working with youth may discriminate against employees who violate the organization's principles condemning pre-marital sex.
These employers would have to demonstrate that they hold males to the same standards – and are not only punishing female employees. However, these circumstances are few and far between, and this exemption does not apply to most employers.
- Hold open a job for pregnancy-related absence as long as they would for non-pregnancy related sick/disability leave
- Provide health coverage on the same basis as costs for non-pregnancy related medical conditions
- Provide the same level of benefits for spouses of male employees as they do for female employees
- Grant pregnant women on leave the ability to accrue seniority, vacation, pay increases, and temporary disability benefits in the same way as those on leave, not due to pregnancy
- Allow appropriate time/place for lactation purposes, including a private area to pump breast milk
Pregnancy Discrimination Attorneys in Orange County
If you feel you may have been discriminated against because of your pregnancy or a pregnancy-related issue, please call our firm for a free consultation. No woman should have to feel shame for being pregnant, especially not in the workplace.
Call Aegis Law Firm today at (800) 543-4829 to request a free consultation with trusted pregnancy discrimination attorneys in Irvine today. We proudly represent clients throughout Orange County and beyond.
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Kashif Haque is truly the most professional and efficient lawyer I have ever dealt with.- Jessica T.
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