As a California employee, you have certain rights, and one of those rights involves having a work environment that is free from discrimination. While discrimination can take on a variety of forms, know that you, as a pregnant woman, do not have to put up with unfavorable treatment at work because of your condition.

Just what is workplace pregnancy discrimination, and how can you tell if you are a victim?

Defining workplace pregnancy discrimination

At its core, pregnancy discrimination refers to any treatment you receive on account of your pregnancy status that differs from that received by your coworkers. It may, too, refer to any discriminatory treatment you receive because of pregnancy, giving birth or a related condition.

For example, if you are interviewing for a new job, the employer may not legally exclude you from consideration because of your pregnancy. Similarly, if you already have a job, your employer may not terminate or demote you simply because you become pregnant. Furthermore, if you hold a certain job and then leave to give birth, that same job must be there for you upon your return.

If your employer offers certain treatment to employees with other, non-pregnancy-related disabilities, he or she must treat you in the same manner as other disabled employees with regard to breaks, time off, lighter duties and so on.

Whom pregnancy discrimination laws cover

There are two main federal laws that cover pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. The first is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, and the other is the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. The first will cover you if your employer has 15 or more on his or her workforce, if you work for a labor union or employment agency, or if your pregnancy status makes you eligible for disability leave per your organization’s policies. The second covers you if your company employs at least 50 workers, you have been there at least a year, and your employer also allows other employees unpaid leave to manage their own health issues or those of their loved ones.

If you are a victim of workplace pregnancy discrimination, act quickly because there are typically limitations on how long you have after an incident to file a charge.