Orange County Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney
For most people, pregnancy is a time of great anticipation and excitement. It also creates a lot of questions. Some of those questions naturally involve the workplace. You may wonder: how will pregnancy affect my job? Can I get time off work for doctor appointments? How much maternity leave is available to me? It’s essential to know your rights so you can make sure your employer (or potential employer) isn’t discriminating against you due to your pregnancy. California law protects employees from discrimination and harassment because of a pregnancy.
If an employer starts treating you poorly or harassing you because you are going to have a child, then they are breaking the law, and you may have claims against that employer. At Sessions & Kimball LLP, our employment rights attorneys have decades of experience representing California women in pregnancy discrimination matters. We zealously advocate for our clients to help them obtain the workplace protection and the justice they deserve. Contact our office by using our contact form, calling us at (949) 380-0900, or book an appointment online for a free consultation today.
Your Pregnancy Rights Under California Law
California state law requires that employers with five or more employees provide certain rights and benefits to pregnant employees. These rights include:
Pregnancy Disability Leave Law
Your employer must allow you to have up to four months of unpaid medical leave for your pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This unpaid leave may be taken intermittently, including the time before delivery for doctor visits and other prenatal care, or all at once. A “four-month leave” means time off for the number of days or hours you would typically work within four calendar months (one-third of a year or 17 1/3 weeks). If you are a full-time employee who works 40 hours per week, “four months” means 693 hours of leave entitlement, based on 40 hours per week times 17 1/3 weeks. If you work 20 hours per week, “four months” means 346.5 hours of leave entitlement. For an employee who normally works 48 hours per week, “four months” means 832 hours of leave entitlement.
It’s also important to note that pregnancy disability leave applies to morning sickness and any other medical condition you are experiencing as a result of your pregnancy. It also covers the time you need to take off after pregnancy due to post-partum depression. This law applies to any employee, regardless of how long they’ve been at their current place of employment. If you started working today, and need to take time off due to pregnancy beginning tomorrow, you will be covered by this law.
Paid Health Insurance
If your employer currently pays for your health insurance, the employer must continue to pay for your health insurance during your pregnancy disability leave.
Right to Reinstatement
If you have taken pregnancy disability leave, then you are guaranteed the right to return to the same or a comparable position when you return from your leave. However, if an employer does not wish to reinstate you to your original or a comparable position upon your return, they must prove one of the following by a preponderance of the evidence:
- The pregnant women employee would not have been employed in the same position for a legitimate business reason unrelated to the employee’s pregnancy leave. For example, layoffs or facility closure.
- The means of preserving the job or duties for the employee who took time off would substantially undermine the employer’s ability to operate the business safely and efficiently. For example, if leaving the pregnant employee’s position open would cause the business to unduly suffer, the employer may not be required to hold the position or reinstate the employee once they return from pregnancy leave.
Many mothers choose to breastfeed their children. Inevitably, this means many employees will need to pump breast milk during work hours. Employees are permitted to pump breast milk during work hours. An employer must make reasonable efforts to provide an employee with break time and a break room or other location near your workspace to pump milk unless it would seriously disrupt the operations of the business. If an employee needs extra time than their standard allotted break times, the employee must allow for this but is not required to pay for these breaks.
If your pregnancy makes it difficult for you to do your job, your employer must take steps to make reasonable accommodations for you, such as a change of work duties or job restructuring. Your employer should also return you to your previous position when the accommodation is no longer needed.
Free From Retaliation or Denial of Pregnancy Rights
Some employers will inevitably try to break the laws. If you are in a situation where your employer will not let you take time off or is disciplining you for taking legally protected actions due to your pregnancy or related medical conditions, it’s important to speak with an attorney immediately. Employers are not permitted to harass you, deny your rights in regards to pregnancy laws, or retaliate against you for any actions you take that are protected under California or Federal law. If they discriminate or retaliate against you, you may be entitled to lost wages, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages, and the cost of the lawsuit and attorney fees.
There are exceptions and notice requirements that may be relevant to the above issues. Our attorneys can provide you with detailed legal advice pertaining to your specific situation. Additionally, California allows you may take an additional 12 weeks of “baby bonding’ time under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). This is leave that is separate and distinct from any pregnancy disability leave or time off under the FMLA. In effect, you may secure leave for 29 1/3 workweeks, provided you qualify for both pregnancy disability leave and CFRA leave for reason of the birth of the child and/or the employee’s own serious health condition.
How Employers Violate Pregnancy Discrimination Laws
It is unlawful for your employer to deny you any of the above applicable rights, and failure to provide you with your rights can be grounds for a lawsuit. Further, an employer may not take any of the following actions against you based on your pregnancy:
- Refusal to Hire
Any such action may also be the basis for a lawsuit against the employer. If, because of your pregnancy, your employer has done any of the above actions or otherwise treated you differently, contact us for a free consultation to learn about your rights.
Protecting California Employees Against Pregnancy Discrimination
Our employment attorneys have represented employees across California in actions against employers for not just pregnancy discrimination but also sexual harassment, wrongful termination, racial discrimination, unpaid wages, and other employee rights issues. We have the experience and the know-how to take on employers of all sizes. Along with our compassion and understanding to hear your individual story, we will help you obtain a just and positive outcome that honors your needs.
At Sessions & Kimball LLP, our exclusive focus is on protecting employee rights. We have more attorneys recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine than any other employee-rights firm in Orange County and Los Angeles. Our Orange County employment law firm is regularly named as one of the Southern California region’s “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News and World Report. If you are facing discrimination in the workplace because you are pregnant, reach out to us today for a free consultation with a top pregnancy discrimination attorney. Contact the office of Sessions & Kimball by using our online contact form or call us at (949) 380-0900 for a free consultation right now.