Pregnancy Discrimination and Harassment

Pregnancy brings excitement and anticipation. It also brings a lot of questions. Some of those questions naturally involve the workplace. You may wonder: how is the pregnancy going to affect my job? Can I get time off of work for appointments? How much maternity leave can I take?

At a basic level, California law protects employees from discrimination and harassment because of a pregnancy. If an employer starts treating you poorly or harassing you because of your pregnancy, then it is breaking the law. And you may have claims against that employer. At Sessions & Kimball LLP, our employment rights attorneys have many years of experience representing California women in pregnancy discrimination matters, and we will zealously advocate for your rights to help you obtain the justice you deserve.

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: 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 time before childbirth 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 normally 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.
  • Paid Health Insurance: If your employer pays for your health insurance while you are working, 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.
  • Reasonable Accommodations: If your pregnancy makes it difficult 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.

There are exceptions and notice requirements that may be relevant to the above issues, and our attorneys can provide you with detailed legal advice relevant to your specific situation.  Additionally, if your employer has 50 or more employees, 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 the working days in 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:

  • Demotion
  • Termination
  • Bullying
  • 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 your rights.

Our employment attorneys have represented employees across Southern California just like you in actions against employers for not just pregnancy discrimination, but also for sexual harassment, wrongful termination, racial and gender discrimination, unpaid wages and benefits, and other employee rights issues. We have the experience and the know-how to take on employers of all sizes, along with the compassion and understanding to hear your individual story and help you obtain a just and positive outcome that honors your needs.

Protecting California Employees Against Pregnancy Discrimination

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 our 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, contact us today for a free consultation with a top pregnancy discrimination attorney.

Practice Areas

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Wrongful Termination
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