Pregnancy Discrimination 2017-12-13T21:46:24+00:00

Pregnancy Discrimination


An employer can’t refuse to hire, promote, or give hours to an employee just because she is pregnant.  In fact, many employers are required to accommodate an employee who requires things like extra breaks, or time off for a doctor, due to the fact that they are pregnant. Laying off an employee because they will “need to take time off work anyway” is not legal.

Discrimination or harassment against an employee, or job applicant, based upon their pregnancy or related health issues is banned by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Government Code §12945. Essentially, an employee can’t be paid differently, refused a job assignment, refused a promotion or benefits, or denied training due to their condition, under state or federal law.  Additionally, the California Family Rights Act requires qualifying employers offer pregnancy leave to certain pregnant employees.

Employers may not treat a pregnant employee worse than those who aren’t pregnant when it comes to wages, benefits, or privileges of employment. A pregnant employee may be able to take up 12 weeks leave due to the California Family Rights Act. Employers with five or more employers have to provide each female employee a leave of absence of up to four months if she becomes disabled by pregnancy or birth related medical conditions, according to California Government Code §12945(b)(2). Under certain circumstances, an employee is disabled if her doctor says she is unable to work because of the pregnancy, child birth or related medical condition, or is unable to do her job without undue risk to herself, the baby, or anyone else. This includes morning sickness or prenatal care. There is no requirement that the pregnancy leave be continuous, and it may be taken intermittently on a reduced work schedule when medically advised.

A distinction is made for employers with five to fourteen employees. These employers don’t have to provide their employees with leave of six weeks or more for a normal pregnancy or birth.  A normal pregnancy, child birth, or related medical condition involves neither high risk nor complications, according to medical personnel. If an employee plans to take disability leave, or knows she’ll need it, it’s the employee’s duty to give 30 days’ notice and her estimated time for returning to work. If such notice is not possible, notice must be given by the employee as soon as practicable.

An employer or employee can generally choose to use the employee’s paid sick leave during pregnancy disability leave. Employers can’t require that an employee use vacation time for that purpose.  If your employer generally does so, an employer can require a medical certification to allow the employee to take pregnancy disability leave.  Such a statement should state the employee is pregnant and has a related disability, cannot perform all her job functions without risking her health or that of the baby, the date of the disability, how long it is estimated the leave will take, and whether or not they need to take intermittent leave.

For specific questions regarding your situation call Labor Law Office, APC today.