In California, dealing with a potential or current employee in a negative manner because of pregnancy-related conditions is considered pregnancy discrimination. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes such treatment illegal and subject to legal action. Pregnancy discrimination can be exhibited in hiring practices, dismissal, termination, training procedures, employment benefits, advancement or assigned work. Any aspect of current or future employment that is viewed negatively and related to pregnancy may be considered discriminatory.
If an individual’s pregnancy or childbirth causes medical difficulties that render that person unable to work temporarily, an employer must extend benefits similar to those offered to other workers who have suffered temporary disability, including altered duties, other types of work and leave. However, an employer may ask for a medical verification, such as doctor’s note, to validate medical conditions that affect work performance and necessitate leave requests. An employer must also provide reasonable accommodation to a pregnant employee if their conditions are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Harassment is also an illegal form of pregnancy discrimination, particularly when it fosters a hostile work environment. Anyone in the workplace, including customers, can be considered a perpetrator of pregnancy-related harassment. Depending on the number of employees working for the company, the Family and Medical Leave Act gives parents of birth, foster and adoptive children a federally protected right to take leave for up to twelve weeks to adjust to new familial additions if the employee has worked for the employer for at least a year. Additionally, mothers that are nursing may be able to express milk at work.
Pregnancy discrimination is one form of workplace discrimination in California. An employment law attorney may be able to assist individuals encountering unlawful discrimination.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “