Do you believe you weren’t hired, denied a promotion or benefits, or were fired because of your pregnancy? If so, you’re not alone. Thousands of women file pregnancy discrimination with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year. If your employer has taken adverse action against you because of your pregnancy, the law and our legal team are on your side.

Anticipating the birth of their children can be one of the most exhilarating times in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, for women in the workplace, it can also be incredibly stressful. Fears about how their employer will handle the news and whether this exciting development will put them at a professional disadvantage abound. And for good reason – many employers use pregnancy as an opportunity to break the law.

Can a company refuse to hire me because I am pregnant?

The short answer is no.  Generally speaking, you cannot be fired for being pregnant. Many employers try to get around these laws by telling a job applicant to come back after she has had her child. Such situations qualify as a breach of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) also prohibit U.S. employers from terminating employees due to pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions. It is important to note that pregnancy discrimination can happen at any point in the employment relationship, from hiring to firing.

Under Title VIII, relevant pregnancy related conditions include:

  • Severe morning sickness
  • Doctor-ordered bed rest
  • Childbirth
  • Recovery from childbirth

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, these conditions include:

  • Taking care of a newborn or a newly adopted child
  • Taking care of a seriously ill child, parent, or spouse

State and Federal laws guarantee that a pregnant woman will have the same opportunity as others during job applications and she may not suffer discrimination from an employer.

California law and pregnancy

Employers commonly discriminate against pregnant women for a variety of reasons, including the concern that pregnant employees will be a drain on company resources (such as exercising their right to maternity leave policies), new mothers will be preoccupied with family responsibilities, and so on.

Under California law, employers with 5 or more employees are required to provide up to 4 months of “pregnancy disability leave” (PDL) to recover from health conditions (of either the mother or child) related to the pregnancy, birth, or end of the pregnancy. Although this leave does not have to be paid, the employer does have to restore the woman to her position after she exercises her right to PDL (note: the 4 months of leave does not all have to be taken at once and it does not count concurrently with California Family Rights Act (CFRA) leave because CFRA leave does not include pregnancy-related disability). In addition, a woman can also request different responsibilities which she can do without taking leave, and the employer must make reasonable accommodations on her behalf. Unlike CFRA or FMLA, there are no requirements that the employee is employed for a certain amount of time or have worked a minimum number of hours. This is different from FMLA and CFRA, both of which require a total of 12 months employment and 1,250 hours worked in the previous year.

What are acceptable reasons for leave under Pregnancy Disability Leave?

A pregnant woman can take leave for any disability that is related to her pregnancy. Typically, this includes if the employee is unable to perform her essential job duties due to the disability or if those job duties would place her or her pregnancy at risk. Some of the reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • Severe morning sickness;
  • Time needed for prenatal care, including doctor’s appointments;
  • Gestational diabetes or preeclampsia;
  • Unable to perform essential functions of your job, or without undue risk to yourself, pregnancy, or others;
  • Postpartum depression, loss or end of pregnancy, recovery from childbirth.

For more information on pregnancy related discrimination claims, contact the attorneys at Webb Law Group today.