Pregnancy Discrimination

Discrimination based on pregnancy is illegal.  These days, a number of factors are making pregnancy discrimination and the rights associated with an employee’s pregnancy more relevant than ever.  Women are more likely to work while pregnant.  About 66 percent of first-time mothers between 2006 and 2008 worked during their pregnancy, compared with 44 percent in the early 1960s.  First-time mothers are working later into their pregnancies than before.  About 88 percent worked into the last trimester, while 65 percent worked into the last month of pregnancy.  Finally, eight out of 10 mothers who worked during their pregnancies returned to work for the same employer within a year of the birth.  About 7 out of 10 of these women returned to a job at the same pay, skill level and hours worked per week.  (Statistics from U. S. Census Bureau.)

In any California business with 5 or more employees, the law entitles a pregnant woman to accommodation based on her pregnancy or related conditions.  Still, many women feel the effects of discrimination.  The effects fall into several main categories including refusal to hire a pregnant applicant, firing or demoting a pregnant employee, denying the same or a similar job to a pregnant employee when she returns from a pregnancy-related leave, and treating a pregnant employee differently than other temporarily disabled employees.

Pregnant California residents have the right to reasonable accommodations (for example, changing break schedules to allow for more bathroom visits or transferring the employee to a less strenuous or dangerous position during pregnancy).  With medical certification of the employee’s doctor, employers must accommodate a request for accommodation to the best of their ability.  When the doctor says that the accommodation is no longer medically needed, the employee also has the right to her old job back.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against based on pregnancy, you should contact an attorney today.