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Being fired while on maternity leave could be discrimination

Goldman Sachs is being accused of gender discrimination after a vice president lost her job while on maternity leave. The former vice president is seeking over $15 million in damages, alleging she was fired because she took the entire four-month paid leave that the company offers, according to an article recently published in the Los Angeles Times.

In California, there are several laws in place protecting the rights of pregnant women in the workforce. Some of these laws protect women from being fired for being pregnant. However, that does not mean a pregnant woman cannot be legally fired for other reasons.

Firing someone because she is pregnant or because she took family or medical leave are acts of discrimination. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits businesses with five or more employees from discriminating against, harassing or retaliating against an employee because of the employee's sex, which includes pregnancy. Similar protections exist under federal law for employers of fifteen or more employees.

Also, depending on your situation, there are other laws that may allow you to take leave from work under varying circumstances related to your pregnancy. While these are often unpaid, they protect you from losing your job while away from work.

If you think you have been discriminated against because of pregnancy, you may consider legal action. Welcoming a new child into your life should be a joyful occasion. It should not be the reason you lose your job.

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