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Californians have a right to work and are considered a vital part of the state infrastructure. Because of their importance, the state has ensured that the rights of employees are protected against harassing or discriminatory practices from employers. Despite these protections, some employers may still engage in such behaviors, particularly against employees who may be pregnant.
At Nosratilaw, A Professional Corporation, our employment attorneys know that such discriminatory practices include reducing scheduled hours, denying a promotion, and refusing to honor maternity leave, amongst other examples. Unfortunately, not all of these behaviors are obvious and could be disguised as other legal reasons. If, however, you feel you have been discriminated against because you are pregnant in Lancaster, CA, you may be entitled to hold your employer accountable and seeking compensation for damages.
Discrimination in the workplace can occur against an employee’s race, religion, sexual orientation, and many other personal identifiers. However, one of the most unethical forms of discrimination is against those who may be pregnant. When a woman is pregnant, there is an unfair assumption that the pregnancy will take away their ability to complete their job to the fullest or that the approaching maternity leave will mean time away from work that may hurt the business. These assumptions made by employers are illegal and wrong. When they make these assumptions, they may engage in any of the following:
These behaviors are the most common examples of the types of discrimination shown by employers toward employees who are pregnant. This list is not comprehensive of all discriminatory types of behaviors an employee may experience.
The specific protections for pregnancy were defined by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. This act was passed as an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made discrimination illegal in the workplace. Specifically, the amendment helped to further define Title VII, which is related to sex discrimination. This provided that any discrimination related to pregnancy, birthing a child, or a related medical condition is unlawful. This law further stipulates that any employee who falls under its protections must have reasonable accommodations met by the employer.
Employee rights are legally protected through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Under the guidelines of these laws, employees have the right to extended leave from work in the event of serious injury, illness, or impairment. Employees may also take time off to care for another family member who is experiencing any of those circumstances. One of the most important ways these laws help employees who are pregnant is by allowing the parent to take time off specifically to bond with a newborn or with an adopted or foster child. When an employee enacts their right, they are allowed to take up to 26 weeks off within a 12-month period, and their job is still legally protected. These protections are available to both expecting mothers and fathers.
Under these acts, you are protected at both the federal and state levels from illegal and unethical behaviors that could potentially be exhibited by your employer. An employer must honor the mandatory and voluntary leave provided by these laws without penalty, retaliation, or discriminatory practices to the employee who is using these benefits during and after a pregnancy. Knowing how these laws protect your rights could help you recognize the signs of discrimination. If you feel your employer has treated you unfairly during and after your pregnancy, speak with an employment lawyer.
One limitation of FMLA and CFRA is that employees must work for 12 months and upwards of 1250 hours. In addition, employers must have at least 50 employees.
To provide similar protections for those employees in smaller organizations, California passed the New Parent Leave Act. Under this act, both mothers and fathers are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of paternity or maternity leave if their employer only has between 20 and 49 employees. This act explicitly covers those employees who are unable to use the leave allotted by FMLA and CFRA.
Employment looks different in many companies, and that can create confusion about which employees are protected by these laws and which are not. However, pregnancy discrimination laws are designed to protect the rights of most workers, including:
Other types of employees, such as independent contractors, are not protected by these laws. However, this can also lead to other forms of employment violations if an employer improperly categorizes an employee. When this miscategorizing is done with intention, it is an employer’s attempt to bypass employee rights that they are entitled to if they were classified correctly.
For protected employees, employers must hold their job position for the entirety of the leave. They may hire an employee to temporarily fill the vacancy, but the employee on leave has a right to regain their employment at the same level with the same benefits and the same salary as when they began their leave. In addition, while an employee is pregnant, their employer has an obligation to allow that employee to work for as long as they are able to. Even if an employee continues to work and must take necessary sick leave due to the pregnancy, an employer may not require the employee to take leave prior to the baby’s birth.
As long as the employee continues to follow the procedures in place by their employer regarding sick leave and continues to perform their job appropriately, then they are legally allowed to continue to work just as any other employee can.
If you feel you have been the victim of workplace discrimination because of a pregnancy, the first step you should take is to collect as much evidence as you can. This should include any documentation, such as workplace policies and procedures, electronic communications, witness statements, or other information that you think helps to show the improper behavior. Then, seek the counsel of a qualified and experienced employment attorney. With their help, you should then notify your employer of the infraction so they have an opportunity to correct the situation. Your report may uncover other violations against other employees.
If your employer fails to correct the violation, you may then report your employer to the California Department of Fair Employment or to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
A: In order to show that discrimination took place because of your pregnancy, you must be able to prove that the behaviors your employer exhibited toward you are different than toward other employees who are not pregnant. If, for example, you have a documented history of successful performance and are suddenly given a subpar performance review without justification, you may be the victim of discrimination.
A: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that specifically outlines what discriminatory behaviors and consequences occur as the result of an employee’s pregnancy. Under this act, an employer may not discriminate against any employee because of pregnancy, childbirth, or other medical conditions as a result of that pregnancy.
A: While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act has granted employees vital protections if they are pregnant, it has also made it easier for some employers to hide behind those same laws. Because the Pregnancy Discrimination Act provides important coverages for those unable to use FMLA or CFRA, employers may find ways to misclassify employees or define the size of their business incorrectly.
A: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act specifically protects employees who are pregnant, experience childbirth, or suffer from related medical conditions from discrimination in the workplace, specifically from their employer. It is illegal for an employer to interfere with any pregnant employee’s rights as protected under state and federal laws. Employers who do violate these rights may be required to compensate employees who experience these violations.
If you feel you or your partner have been the victim of workplace discrimination as a result of pregnancy, you should immediately seek representation from an experienced and skilled employment attorney. With the help of an attorney, you can review the facts of your case and work to receive the compensation that you may be entitled to. Facing any type of discrimination in the workplace is unsettling and unexpected, but when it revolves around a time of excitement in your life, it can feel even more devastating. Get the help that you deserve today. Contact Nosratilaw, A Professional Corporation, today, and let us ensure your rights are protected.