Pregnant women are protected from employment discrimination by federal law. California offers additional state-level protections related to pregnancy.
Pregnancy Discrimination Defined
Because pregnant women are considered a federally protected class, employers may not use pregnancy as a reason for any of the following:
- Refusing to hire a potential employee
- Firing a pregnant employee while on medical leave
- Demoting a pregnant employee
- Insisting on forced time off for a pregnant employee
- Denying reasonable accommodations to major job functions for pregnant employees
- Refusing to allow medical accommodations for employees who are pregnant
Many aspects of how these laws play out in the workplace are not crystal clear, so it makes sense to consult with an employment law attorney if a specific pregnancy-related question concerns you or cannot be answered through your HR department. Our firm’s lawyer will examine your specific circumstances and provide suggestions tailored to your situation.
Women who are pregnant may face problems at work when they announce their pregnancy and/or when they seek leave during their pregnancy or after the birth of their child, or when they return to work or attempt to return. Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and regulate pregnancy-related leave.
Determining whether to pursue a legal claim is an important decision. You should be aware of your rights and prepared to take action if your rights are violated. Eldessouky Law offers free initial consultations, and we will take the time necessary to understand your situation and concerns.
Our firm is ready to fight any type of employment discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination. If you have been treated unfairly because of a pregnancy, that is a violation of state and federal law. Our experienced discrimination lawyers are here to help you seek justice.
At the Eldessouky Law, our attorneys know that laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination do not always deter employers from treating pregnant employees and job candidates differently from their non-pregnant counterparts. We have experience fighting for the civil rights of working mothers, and we are motivated to hold accountable those employers who fail to honor their legal obligations.
And we have secured large settlements for our clients from prominent California employers that failed to treat pregnant employees equally.
CAN I SUE MY EMPLOYER FOR WAGE REDUCTION DUE TO MY PREGNANCY?
It is illegal for employers to discriminate against pregnant employees in any manner. Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, which gives the victims the right to lodge a complaint against their employers, and be eligible to receive damages.
Pregnant employees are included in the protected group of people that cannot be discriminated against by the employers. Your pregnancy doesn’t give your employer the right to mistreat you. If an employer discriminates against a pregnant employee, they open up the possibility of defending a discrimination lawsuit if the victim institutes proceedings.
You are rightfully entitled to take legal action against your employer if they cut your pay or demote you simply because you are pregnant.
The information provided below would help you understand how to proceed with filing a complaint against your employer if you were a victim of discrimination, or you had a wage cut due to your pregnancy.
What is Pregnancy Discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination in the work environment takes place when an employer treats women differently due to their pregnancy, childbirth, or other medical conditions related to pregnancy.
Declining to hire pregnant applicants, terminating pregnant employees, refusing reinstatement to the prior position held by employees returning from their maternity leaves, unfavorable treatment of pregnant employees, and disallowing a male employee’s health insurance coverage for his pregnant wife is also included in pregnancy discrimination.
What Laws Provide Protection to Pregnant Employees?
Many federal laws are in support of protecting pregnant employees in the workplace from discrimination.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: This law entails several forms of discrimination based on various characteristics covering each stage of the employment process.
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978: This act clarifies that pregnancy discrimination is covered under sex discrimination and requires employers to treat pregnant employees equally.
- Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993: This law grants both the genders a right to avail 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave, when dealing with a serious health condition by themselves, or of a family member.
Does My Employer Have the Right to Reduce My Salary If I’m Pregnant?
The employer’s right to reduce pay depends on the situation of the employee. If the disabled employee can perform the standard job functions, it qualifies them for the same benefits that any other regular employee receives. In case of any wage cuts, the employer is legally obligated to provide an explanation for such acts if the employee asks for it.
Although the employer has the right to assign you to a different position during your pregnancy period if you were struggling with your regular work, and pay you accordingly. After childbirth, you can once again go back to your original position.
HOW CAN I SUE MY EMPLOYER FOR FMLA PREGNANCY LEAVE VIOLATIONS?
As beautiful as it sounds, pregnancy in reality is a difficult experience, not only for the woman but also for the other parent. During this period, it can be extremely difficult for the parents to maintain a work-life balance.
For this reasons, there are several federal and state laws that facilitate pregnant employees and new parents. These laws prohibit any kind of harassment and discrimination against such employees. It also allows a leave time for new parents, including pregnancy leave, maternity leave, and post-pregnancy leave.
Pregnancy leave is a certain time period that grants employees to avail time off work during pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage, or any other physical or mental problem that is related to pregnancy.
Pregnant women are rightfully entitled to a pregnancy leave. The laws also gives them the right to reasonable accommodation and take leave from work in the event of pregnancy and other related conditions. The laws prohibit the employer to reject a pregnant applicant, harass, discriminate, demote, or terminate a pregnant employee.
The issues that arise due to pregnancy are treated as a disability. As the term disability is a broad concept, pregnancy-related complications also fall under this term, and so pregnant employees are eligible for disability leave in case of any health problems.
Pregnancy disability stands for any physical or mental disorder that is in any way linked to pregnancy, or childbirth, which causes hindrances for the employee to perform their required job functions without risking themselves, their pregnancy, or others.
A pregnant employee who is entitled to get pregnancy disability leave is allowed to take up to 4 months of time away from work during the time they’re struggling to get work done. Although the exact time period of leave varies from employee to employee based on their condition, a normal pregnancy and delivery leave is given up to 4 weeks before the childbirth and up to 6 weeks following the birth. It isn’t necessary to avail all of it at once, and can be availed in intervals as well.
This type of disability is considered as a short-term disability, so the leave covers the pay or some part of it during your time off work.
Suing for FMLA Pregnancy Leave Violation
The employers are legally required to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); otherwise they would have to deal with grave consequences. If an employee that qualifies for FMLA is denied leave, they have the right to lodge a complaint against their employer.
Unless an otherwise specified by the employee, the employer is not permitted to count the leave as FMLA leave on their own.
If there is ever any confusion regarding what is legal interaction and what may qualify as discrimination, contact our Pregnancy Discrimination attorney at Eldessouky Law in South California today at (714) 793-0594 to understand your rights, and hold your employer accountable if they are in violation of state or federal laws.