Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy Discrimination

Los Angeles Employment Attorney

Have you been discriminated against at work, because you are pregnant? If so, you are not alone. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), pregnancy-bias complaints surged 14% in 2007 and were up 40% compared to a decade ago. In 2012, 3,745 pregnancy discrimination charges were filed with the EEOC.

Pregnancy discrimination has been defined as when an "employer treats a women employee or job applicant unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth." If you are a pregnant woman, you are entitled to:

  • Not being denied a job because you are pregnant
  • Health insurance coverage, if you are working
  • Maternity leave
  • Ability to work while pregnant
  • Pregnancy-related benefits, whether or not you are married

How an Employer Can't Treat You While You are Pregnant

Many pregnant women have been fired or forced to take unpaid leave because their employer wouldn't provide a basic accommodation such as a water bottle, a stool to sit on or frequent restroom breaks. All too often, a pregnant woman has to choose between the health of her baby and keeping her job. In the words of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), "Forcing pregnant women out of their jobs not only hurts women, it hurts our families, our communities and our economy." Under the law an employer cannot:

  • Deny you a job offer because you are pregnant
  • Use your pregnancy as an excuse to test your ability to work
  • Force you to remain on leave until your child's birth (if you are absent because of a pregnancy condition)
  • Demand that you provide a doctor's note to show that you are able to work (if your employer does not require similar documentation for other employees with short-term disabilities)
  • Deny you employment because you have small children
  • Refuse to cover hospitalization and other medical expenses related to your pregnancy
  • Refuse to grant you, as a pregnant woman on leave, the ability to accrue seniority, vacation, pay increases and temporary disability benefits

Your Rights under the Law

Despite the fact that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed more than 30 years ago, many companies continue to discriminate against pregnant women. This takes many forms: they refuse to hire a pregnant woman, they fire or force a pregnant woman to take unpaid leave or they refuse to hold her job for her while she is taking maternity leave. Even many women who are allowed to keep their jobs, once they have their child, get paid less than their coworkers. Under the law, you are allowed to:

  • Work as long as you are able to perform your job
  • Be treated the same as any other temporarily disabled employee (if you become temporarily unable to do your job due to pregnancy)
  • Have your employer hold open a job for you when you take a pregnancy-related absence (it must be held open for the same length of time jobs are held open for employees who are sick/disabled)
  • Take advantage of pregnancy-related benefits your employer provides, regardless of whether or not you are married
  • Take advantage of the same benefits that other workers on leave receive
  • Take up to 12 weeks of leave per year for medical reasons (including pregnancy and childbirth) and for childcare if your employer is covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and you qualify for FMLA leave

For more information, you can check out the following links provided by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

Steps You Can Take If You are Being Discriminated Against

If you believe that you are being treated unfavorably because of pregnancy, there are steps you can take to preserve your job and protect your rights:

  • Document the occurrences of discrimination by leaving a paper or e-mail trail
  • Read and follow your handbook (pay attention to laws on short-term disability, pregnancy, discrimination, leaves of absence and filing internal complains concerning discrimination)
  • Focus on your performance (so that an employer doesn't seize upon poor work performance as grounds for terminating you)
  • Speak with other female co-workers discreetly
  • Contact an employment attorney immediately!

If you believe you are being treated unfavorably because you are pregnant, you could be the victim of pregnancy discrimination. To discuss the details surrounding your case with an experienced attorney, do not hesitate to speak with the seasoned team at Martinian & Associates INC. today! We have handled hundreds of jury trials and successfully secured millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of our clients!

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