In California, labor laws protect women from workplace harassment or discrimination by employers on the basis of pregnancy. Pregnancy discrimination occurs when a pregnant employee or job applicant receives less favorable treatment because they are pregnant or may someday become pregnant. Retaliation laws are in place to protect anyone who reports or opposes any pregnancy-related discriminatory workplace practices, even if they are not a direct victim of the unlawful conduct.
EXAMPLES OF PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION:
Pregnancy discrimination may look like any of the following:
- Refusing to hire a pregnant applicant because of pregnancy
- Denying the pregnant employee a promotion, scheduled pay increase or health related benefits
- Not allowing an employee to take time off of work for medical check-ups
- Terminating an employee because of pregnancy
- Not allowing the pregnant employee to take leave for a pregnancy disability
- Not providing the pregnant employee with reasonable accommodations to perform job duties
- Giving the pregnant employee less hours
- Demoting the employee or trying to get the pregnant employee to quit
Retaliation for pregnancy, for requesting any accommodations in connection with pregnancy, or for speaking out in support of pregnancy-related discrimination (“reporting employee”) may look like any of the following:
- Keeping a pregnant or reporting employee from attending meetings, training sessions or other company events
- Hostile or negative treatment from supervisors and/or fellow employees, who may engage in ostracizing behavior toward the pregnant or reporting employee
- Verbal abuse by supervisors and management after filing a complaint
- Threatened with job termination or demotion after reporting an incident
- Passed over for raises and promotions after filing a complaint
- Bullying, intimidation and verbal abuse from other employees
- Against the employee’s wishes, being transferred to another team or job function
If you feel you may have been a victim of workplace pregnancy discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, OR you are not sure if your situation would fall under any of the California pregnancy discrimination or retaliation laws, we want to talk to you.
THE LAWS IN CALIFORNIA AGAINST PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION:
There are various sources of law in California that provide protection to pregnant employees and new mothers.
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) considers pregnancy discrimination a form of sex discrimination and applies to California employers with five or more employees. FEHA defines “sex” discrimination as inclusive of any discrimination and mistreatment on account of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and any related medical conditions.
FEHA also protects an employee who opposes any practice that would violate the FEHA, even if the practice is not directed at her. It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee who reports or otherwise opposes pregnancy discrimination and there is additional employer liability for failing to prevent retaliation.
Pursuant to FEHA, it is unlawful for an employer to harass or discriminate against a pregnant employee, an employer must provide reasonable accommodations for a pregnant employee upon request, and the employer must not engage in retaliation for any reporting of any pregnancy-related discrimination complaints.
Under the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (“PDLL”), an employer must provide an employee disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition up to four months of pregnancy disability leave, continuation of health coverage, reasonable accommodations and, if so requested by the employee, a temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous available position for the duration of the pregnancy.
A woman is disabled by her pregnancy if, in the opinion of her doctor, she is unable to perform any one or more of the essential functions of her job because of her pregnancy. Such a disability may take the form of severe morning sickness; gestational diabetes; pregnancy-induced hypertension; preeclampsia; bedrest; childbirth; postpartum depression; loss or end of pregnancy; and recovery from childbirth.
It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee for any such pregnancy disability, or to retaliate against an employee who reports discrimination or harassment related to a pregnancy disability.
FURTHER RETALIATION PROTECTIONS:
Employees have protections against retaliation under FEHA, the Labor Code and various other whistleblower protection laws. Employees are protected from retaliation when they disclose or report unlawful practices (i.e., any activity that would violate state, federal, or local laws or regulations) and when they refuse to participate in unlawful practices. This protection applies whether the employee complains externally or internally and whether they are the direct victim of the unlawful actions or a fellow employee.
If you feel you may have been a victim of workplace pregnancy discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, OR you are not sure if your situation would fall under any of the California pregnancy discrimination or retaliation laws, we want to talk to you. Contact us online or call 310-205-2020 to schedule a consultation with one of the experienced employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Lauren Abrams.