Can I Sue My Employer for Pregnancy Discrimination?

It is unlawful for employers to discriminate against pregnant women in any way, shape, or form. If you have been discriminated against because of being pregnant, our lawyers can sue your employer for pregnancy discrimination. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is an amendment to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which states that discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition which is related to pregnancy constitutes as illegal sex discrimination. This means that women who are pregnant, or have been affected by pregnancy, must be treated in the exact same manner as their coworkers or other applicants. Their equal treatment must be based on those other coworkers/applicants who are close to their ability, or inability, to work. Pregnancy discrimination is the act of treating a woman critically or unfavorably because she is pregnant, will become pregnant, recently underwent childbirth, or some other medical condition that is concomitant to her pregnancy. The California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group has the resources and attorneys to help build your case.

PDA of Title VII
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers many forms of discrimination — racial, ethnic, sex, gender, religious are examples of discrimination that Title VII encapsulates. Decisions about your status like promotions, hiring, work assignments, work conditions, firing, benefits, training, retirement policies and wages that are based on these kinds of discrimination are unlawful and give the employee the right to file a lawsuit against their employer (former, or otherwise).

PDA is an amendment that was enacted in 1978 to protect pregnant women against any kind of discrimination from their employers. It also includes child birth and other pregnancy-related medical conditions. In essence, PDA requires that pregnant women get treated in the exact same way as other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work by their employers and other employees.

The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) guarantees that employees, both male and female, who have been working for at least a year (12 months) with a company with at least 50 employees the right to twelve weeks of leave. This is unpaid (or paid if the employee has accrued the hours), and job-protected leave to give the employee enough time to recover from a serious medical condition (which includes pregnancy, child birth, or to take care of a fostered or adopted child). An employee has the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave every year, and gets to keep their health benefits throughout the leave. In addition, the FMLA guarantees the employee who took leave the right to the same job, or something very similar, that she had prior to taking her leave due to the pregnancy.

Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace
Our Los Angeles lawyers are able to review your case and let you know if you have a pregnancy discrimination claim. If you have a legitimate case, our Los Angeles attorneys will sue your employer for pregnancy discrimination. We are located in Los Angeles but we take cases from the entire state of California.

The PDA forbids that employers discriminate against women who are pregnant when it comes to any aspect of the job. These aspects include, but are not limited to hiring, termination, salary, job tasks and assignments, promotions and bonuses, layoff, training, health benefits (such as leave and health insurance that are mandated by state and/or federal laws), and any other terms of the employment to which the employee agreed. This means that employers cannot refuse to hire women because of some prejudice the employer may have against pregnant workers or those prejudices that may exist in the workplace by other workers, customers, or other parties. As long as the pregnant woman can perform the necessary aspects of the job, an employer may not discriminate against women simply because they are pregnant.

The employer cannot use pregnancy as an excuse to not give a pregnant employee a promotion or raise in salary. For example, if a pregnant woman has proven that she is the most qualified for a higher position, the employer must consider her as if she were not pregnant. Many employers believe that a promotion towards a pregnant employee would not be in the company’s best interest because that same employee may go on leave in only a few months. This reasoning is unlawful.

Additionally, an employee that returns from leave must be positioned in the very same status as she was before she took her leave and returned. For example, if an employee was being considered for a bonus before she had to go on leave due to her pregnancy, the employer, upon the employee’s return from leave, must consider the employee for the bonus in the same respect. Not doing so violates the law and could give the employee grounds to file a lawsuit against her employer.

To Prove Pregnancy Discrimination
There are times in which an employee who was discriminated against has direct evidence of the alleged discrimination. If, for example, the employer directly stated that the pregnancy of an employee directly affected their decision, the employee will have a much easier time in court. Even these days, attitudes towards women who are pregnant and their continued contribution to the workforce are not very positive, and it is not unheard of for employers to openly admit that pregnancy was the issue in their decision.

Unfortunately, not all employees have such a direct line of evidence against their employer. Some employers are wise enough to the fact that they cannot directly state that the employee’s pregnancy influenced their decision. The pregnant employee may believe that their decision was because they are with child. This is circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence can still assist the employee to prove that her employer discriminated against her: In order to prove discrimination based on circumstantial evidence, the facts of her case must make it more likely than not that the employer’s actions were made because of the pregnancy.

Typically, circumstantial evidence that sways a jury is evidence that shows that the employer broke from their standard practice or policies, acted in such a way that does not make much practical sense from a business stand-point, or changed behavior.

Pregnant Employees and Temporary Leave
If an employee who is pregnant is temporarily unable to perform her duties as an employee, the employer has a legal responsibility to treat her the exact same way as any other employee with a temporary disability. For example, an employer might provide modified tasks that make the pregnant employee able to continue her job. Modified tasks include things like creating light-duty tasks, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave.

The restrictions, or disabilities, that may come with an employee’s pregnancy may fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This means that an employer may have to provide reasonable accommodation for that employee. For example, an employer may have to modify that employee’s duties to NOT include any heavy lifting — a modification that stems from the pregnancy.

Post-Pregnancy and Maternity Leave
It is against the law for employers to isolate and focus on pregnancy-related conditions for medical clearance procedures that are not required of other employees who have a similar temporary disability which renders them unable to work. And vice-versa: For instance, if an employer requires that its employees get a doctor’s note which concerns their inability to work at full capacity before the employer grants the leave, the employer must require that the pregnant employee to get a similar doctor’s note — this way the employer is not singling out the pregnancy.

Employers cannot interfere in the employment of an employee who is pregnant. This is to say that employees must be permitted to work for as long as they physically can. If the employee must be absent from work due to a complication or appointment in regarding the pregnancy, the employer cannot require the employee to stay at home until after her baby is born. Lastly, no employer can have a policy which states they prohibit an employee from returning to work after the child is born, or other pregnancy-related issue — the employers cannot have a predetermined length of time which does not allow employees to return post-pregnancy.

Once an employee goes on leave due to a pregnancy, the employer must hold the position open for that employee. Upon the employee’s return, the employer must allow the employee to return to her old position, or one that is nearly the same. An employer which allows temporarily disabled employees to take leave, must also allow pregnant employees to do the same. Again, in no way can employers discriminate against pregnant employees.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), an Act which was enforced by the United States Department of Labor, a new parent may get up to 12 weeks of leave which the employee may use to bond and take care of the newborn baby. (The offspring does not have to biologically related to the employee, the child can be fostered or adopted.) The leave for which the employee may qualify can be unpaid, or paid if the employee has accrued it. In order for an employee to be eligible for leave, an employee must have worked for her employer for 12 months and accrued 1,250 hours in those 12 months. The 12 months for which the employee worked do not have to be consecutive.

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If you believe that you have been discriminated in Los Angeles against for being pregnant, give us a call for a free consultation. California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group is the law firm to help you get what you are entitled.