Los Angeles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer
Imagine you’ve just found out that you’re pregnant. Excitement fills the air as you share the news with your partner, family, and friends. However, when it comes time to inform your employer, the reactions may not be as pleasant. In fact, it is quite the opposite. You suddenly find yourself facing unfair treatment, being passed over for promotions, or even losing your job. This is pregnancy discrimination, and it’s a harsh reality for countless women across the United States.
The joy of bringing new life into this world should not be overshadowed by the injustice of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. However, pregnant employees continue to face unequal treatment, retaliation, and even job termination simply for starting a family. If you believe you are a victim of pregnancy discrimination, get help from a discrimination lawyer in Los Angeles at Theory Law APC by booking a confidential and free consultation to review your case.
Breaking Down the Legal Landscape of Pregnancy Discrimination
Pregnancy discrimination is unlawful under both California and federal laws. Let’s dive into the specific laws that protect pregnant employees:
California Laws Protecting Pregnant Employees
In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits pregnancy discrimination and offers additional protections to pregnant employees. It is unlawful, under FEHA, for an employer with five or more employees to discriminate, harass, or retaliate against employees who are pregnant or have related medical conditions. Employers taking adverse employment actions, such as firing or demoting an employee because of their pregnancy or related medical condition, may be liable under FEHA. The law also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are pregnant, disabled due to the pregnancy, or have a related medical condition.
California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
The CFRA gives eligible employees up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for the birth of a child, bonding with a child, or to care for a family member’s or the employee’s own serious health condition, such as a pregnancy-related condition. To be eligible for CFRA, the employee must have been employed for a total of 12 months before leave and worked at least 1,250 hours for an employer who has five or more employees. The employer must maintain any health benefits the employee had, such as health insurance, for the duration of the CFRA leave. However, the employer is not required to pay the employee for the duration of CFRA leave.
Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL)
California’s PDL is another type of job-protected leave that allows pregnant employees to take up to four months of unpaid leave if they are disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or have a related medical condition. For example, employees who are unable to work due to a pregnancy-related condition, such as severe morning sickness, preeclampsia, recovery from childbirth, or a related disability. Employers are also required to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees upon request, but they are not required to pay the employee while she is on leave. Part-time employees are also protected. To receive PDL, the employee must be employed by an employer with five or more employees.
Federal Laws Against Pregnancy Discrimination
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Under this law, it is unlawful for an employer to treat pregnant employees differently than other employees who are similarly situated. For example, an employer may not demote, terminate, or deny a promotion or other employment opportunity because of the employee’s pregnancy.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Similar to the CFRA, the FMLA is a federal law that gives eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child, baby bonding, for their own serious health condition or the care of a family member’s serious health condition. The eligibility requirements are the same as those for the CFRA, however, the employee must work for an employer with 50 or more employees. If eligible, the employer must maintain the employee’s health benefits for the duration of FMLA.
The Essential Elements of a Pregnancy Discrimination Claim
Proving pregnancy discrimination claims can be challenging, but with the right legal team and evidence, it is possible. Employees can help their case by collecting documents and keeping a record of any evidence that supports their claim, such as emails, text messages, performance evaluations, witnesses, or their written requests related to their pregnancy. They can also consult with an experienced discrimination lawyer from Theory Law APC who can help them navigate the legal process.
To bring a pregnancy discrimination claim, the employee must demonstrate several key elements:
- The employee is pregnant or affected by a related medical condition.
- The employer took some adverse employment action against the employee, such as being fired, demoted, denied a promotion, or job opportunity, subjected harassment, or receiving less pay or hours.
- The employee’s pregnancy or related condition is connected to the adverse employment action. Some of the ways this can be shown is by the employer’s pattern of behavior, direct evidence, or circumstantial evidence.
- The employee has lost wages or suffering from emotional distress as a result of the employer’s action.
- The employer is subject to applicable laws.
Successfully proving these elements can help an employee build a strong pregnancy discrimination claim and a chance of getting compensated for the employee’s losses, such as back pay, front pay, out of pocket expenses, attorney’s fees, emotional distress, court costs, and punitive damages.
Pregnancy and Work Accommodations
As you now know, under both federal and California laws, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees upon request. Employers must give the accommodations as long as doing so does not create an undue hardship for the company.
Some of the reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy can include:
- Additional breaks
- Light duty assignments
- Modified work schedules
- Temporary transfer to a less strenuous position
- Workstation modifications
Employers are also required to participate in the interactive process. This involves communication between the employee and employer to work together and find potential accommodations that can allow the employee to perform her job. This process begins when the employee requests an accommodation.
To request an accommodation, the employee should notify her employer in writing and provide any necessary documentation from her healthcare provider. As part of the interactive process, it’s essential to maintain open communication with the employer throughout the process.
Real-Life Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace
Now that we have a better understanding of the legal landscape, let’s take a look at how pregnancy discrimination can manifest in the workplace.
Case 1: The Promotion That Never Came and a PIP
Meet Monica, a dedicated employee who had been working for her company for five years. When she discovered she was pregnant, she excitedly shared the news with her boss. Unfortunately, instead of congratulations, she was met with hostility. Over a period of time, Monica was passed over for a promotion that she had been promised, and the position was given to a less-qualified male colleague. To make matters worse, she was placed on a performance improvement plan (PIP). Monica sought legal help, and with the assistance of a discrimination lawyer, she was able to receive compensation after proving her pregnancy was the reason she had been denied the promotion and placed on a PIP.
Case 2: The Wrongful Termination
Jasmine was a successful sales executive who had always received positive performance evaluations. When she informed her employer that she was pregnant, her manager’s attitude changed drastically. Suddenly, Jasmine was given impossible sales targets and was unfairly criticized for her work. Eventually, she was fired for not meeting these unrealistic expectations. Jasmine filed a pregnancy discrimination claim and with the help of a knowledgeable attorney won her case.
There are endless examples of pregnancy discrimination that can affect pregnant employees. Other examples can include:
- Refusing to hire a job applicant due to her pregnancy.
- Lowering an employee’s pay due to her pregnancy-related medical condition.
- Failing to give reasonable accommodations to a pregnant employee who requests light work, no heavy lifting, or a stool to sit on.
- Harassing an employee due to her pregnancy or related medical condition.
- Retaliating or discriminating against an employee who takes CFRA leave or PDL, by giving less hours to work, treating her differently when she returns from leave, or terminating her.
- Denying a pregnant employee time off for her pregnancy, related disability or medical condition, or bonding time with her child.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Pregnancy Discrimination in California: Understanding Your Rights
Our firm can provide reliable legal advice and transparent answers to your questions if you are dealing with a disability discrimination case in Los Angeles. Refer to this FAQ page to gain more insight into these claims and to discover how we can assist you
Can You Take Time Off Work When Pregnant?
Yes, you can take time off work when pregnant under certain circumstances. As you now know, you may be eligible for Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) if you are disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Additionally, you can also take time off work under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) for pregnancy-related conditions, child birth, or bonding with your child.
Can You Take FMLA to Get Pregnant?
FMLA does not cover time off for attempting to get pregnant. However, if you have a pregnancy-related medical condition or undergo treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), you may be eligible for FMLA leave.
Is it Illegal to Not Tell Your Boss You’re Pregnant?
No, you are not required to tell your employer about your pregnancy. However, it may be beneficial to disclose your pregnancy if you need accommodations or time off for pregnancy-related reasons.
Is Baby Bonding The Same as FMLA?
Baby bonding is a right allowed under FMLA and CFRA, which allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period for bonding with their newborn, adopted, or foster child. Note that CFRA and FMLA also allow leave for other family and medical reasons, not just baby bonding.
Is Infertility a Reason for FMLA?
Infertility itself is not a covered reason for leave under FMLA or CFRA. However, if you have a serious health condition related to infertility or are undergoing medical treatments, such as IVF, which require time off from work, you may be eligible for FMLA leave.
Can I Take Time Off Work for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?
Yes. If you work at an employer subject to the applicable laws, your employer may be required to accommodate you to obtain testing, diagnosis, or a few weeks off for treatment or egg retrieval. You may also be eligible for CFRA or FMLA leave if the IVF treatment requires medical appointments or causes complications that qualify as a serious health condition.
Is Infertility Considered a Disability?
Generally, no. However, the FEHA, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which governs disability discrimination at the federal level, define a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Certain conditions related to infertility may qualify as a disability if they substantially limit a major life activity. Conceiving or carrying a baby can be considered a major life activity.
What are The Consequences of Pregnancy Discrimination at Work?
Pregnancy discrimination can have severe consequences for both employees and employers. For employees, it can lead to loss of income, emotional distress, and damage to their professional reputation. For employers, pregnancy discrimination can result in lawsuits, financial penalties, and harm to the company’s reputation. Employers found guilty of pregnancy discrimination may be required to reinstate employees, pay back wages, provide monetary damages, punitive damages, and take corrective actions to prevent future discrimination.
Our law office focuses on employment law and has extensive experience representing clients in discrimination cases. We understand the impact that pregnancy discrimination can have on your career and are committed to fighting for justice on your behalf. Whether you have questions regarding your accommodations or you need to speak with an attorney regarding an issue at work related to your pregnancy, we have experience with pregnancy discrimination lawsuits in Los Angeles and can help you. As soon as you suspect your employer has discriminated against you because of your pregnancy or related medical condition, book a free consultation or call (310) 500-0206 to speak with a Los Angeles employment attorney at Theory Law APC today for guidance and support.
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