Los Angeles Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney

The birth of a child is an exciting and often stressful time for parents, and working employees may fret at the thought of balancing a career with caring for a newborn. There are several laws in place that not only protect American parents’ rights to work but also prevent them from facing any negative actions for becoming pregnant or taking time off to care for a newborn.

Expectant parents have plenty to worry about without having to handle employers who treat them unfairly or unlawfully. It is important to know the laws surrounding employee pregnancies, pregnancy leave, and discrimination against pregnant employees so you can protect yourself in case an employer breaks these laws. Read through the following information about California residents’ rights concerning pregnancy leave, and reach out to a qualified Los Angeles pregnancy leave attorney if you think your rights have been violated.

If you find yourself in such a situation, reach out to the Los Angeles maternity leave attorneys at Mathew & George. Our team of Los Angeles employment lawyers maintain a small caseload to ensure every client receives the attention that they deserve. We will put the full range of our skills and resources at your disposal, so reach out to our team to set up a free consultation about your pregnancy leave case today.

Los Angeles Pregnancy Leave Discrimination Resources

Your Rights for Pregnancy Leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees American employees of most businesses unpaid, job-secure leave in the event of a personal emergency, such as an immediate family member’s severe illness or the birth of a child. Many states have additional laws concerning pregnancy laws – including California. Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), private employers with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of a worksite and all public employers must allow eligible employees to take up to a maximum of 12 workweeks’ worth of leave in any one-year period.

Additionally, the FEHA in California dictates that private employers with five or more employees must provide up to four months of maternity leave. Public employers with any size workforce must also allow this. Unlike other forms of leave, the pregnant employee is not required to have worked for the employer for any particular amount of time, and full-time or part-time status does not apply.

An “eligible employee” is defined in California as any employee who has worked for an employer for at least 1,250 hours in the previous year and whose situation meets the requirements for leave under FMLA. The birth of a child is a qualifying situation, and both parents may take FMLA leave. If both parents have the same employer, however, the employer may require that they split the 12-workweek allotment.

Examples of Unlawful Pregnancy Discrimination

Unlawful pregnancy discrimination means an employer is treating an employee or job applicant less favorably because she is pregnant. Any adverse employment action or hiring decision based on the fact that a woman is pregnant is against state and federal law. Pregnancy discrimination can take many forms at a workplace in California, including:

  • Deciding not to hire a job applicant
  • Demoting the pregnant worker or docking pay
  • Giving the pregnant worker a less favorable schedule
  • Refusing to offer reasonable accommodations for the woman’s pregnancy
  • Excluding the pregnant worker from group meetings and special projects
  • Relocating the worker
  • Harassing the employee because of pregnancy
  • Refusing to provide the leave the employee is entitled to by law
  • Terminating the woman’s employment

You deserve to be treated with the same respect as other employees and job applicants as an expecting mother. Any form of pregnancy or sexual discrimination is unacceptable, and wrongdoers deserve to be held accountable. If an employer in Los Angeles took any of these unfavorable actions against you after learning of your pregnancy, you could have grounds for a discrimination or harassment lawsuit.

Applicable Medical Conditions Related to Pregnancy

State and federal laws protect pregnant employees from discrimination against not only their pregnancies but related medical conditions, as well. In California, an employee cannot be fired or demoted for having to take time off of work for a pregnancy-related medical condition. Medical problems often related to pregnancy and childbirth include:

  • Anemia
  • Back pain
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Infections
  • Lactation problems
  • Mastitis
  • Miscarriage
  • Placenta previa
  • Placental abruption
  • Postpartum depression
  • Preeclampsia
  • Severe morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum)

If a worker needs time off to recover from these conditions or visit a doctor for professional medical care, it is against the law for an employer to fire or punish the employee for taking this leave.

Elements You Need to Prove Your Claim

It is not enough to have your employer take adverse action against you as a pregnant employee. You or your lawyer must be able to prove that the adverse action was a result of your pregnancy or related medical needs. To have a valid claim to damages, you or your lawyer must prove three main elements:

  1. Based on the size of the workplace and other parameters, state and/or federal pregnancy anti-discrimination laws apply to your employer.
  2. Your employer took negative employment action against you and you suffered harm because of the action, such as lost wages or emotional distress.
  3. Your pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition was a motivating factor behind the employer’s negative employment action.

The burden of proof in a civil suit is a preponderance of the evidence, or enough evidence to prove that the defendant is more likely than not guilty of pregnancy discrimination and that this is what caused your losses. The evidence available to support a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit may be direct or circumstantial.

Direct evidence is proof directly from the discriminatory employer, such as disparaging or rude comments made directly to the employee. Circumstantial evidence draws conclusions based on the circumstances. For instance, if a worker was fulfilling the duties of her job in a satisfactory manner but was fired unexpectedly after announcing her pregnancy, this could be strong circumstantial evidence of pregnancy discrimination.

What to do If You Have Been Discriminated Against

If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your pregnancy, document the incident right away. Write down everything you can remember, including the names of anyone who might have witnessed the act of discrimination. Go to HR and file an official complaint. If your employer does not remedy the issue, you can take your complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for an official workplace investigation. Next, contact a pregnancy discrimination lawyer in Los Angeles to discuss your rights and legal options. A lawyer can help you take legal action against your employer for pregnancy discrimination.

Los Angeles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers

Discrimination based on an individual’s race, skin color, religion, disability, age, or sex is illegal. Pregnancy discrimination is a form of gender discrimination. It is illegal for an employer to make any employment-related decisions such as hiring, firing, promotion, pay increase or decrease changes in benefit coverage, or other similar factors based solely on an employee’s pregnancy. If you believe you’ve been discriminated against because of your pregnancy, contact a discrimination lawyer in LA as soon as possible.

Additionally, an employer cannot fire an employee simply because she becomes pregnant. Doing so would be considered wrongful termination. Pregnancy is protected under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and employers found in violation of EEOC laws face heavy costs and possible punitive damages. Denying pregnancy leave or forcing a pregnant employee to resign rather than take FMLA leave are forms of sexual discrimination—and are illegal.

Contact a Pregnancy Leave Lawyer in LA

If you believe you have suffered pregnancy discrimination or an employer has interfered with your ability to secure FMLA leave for the birth and care of your child, you need to find a maternity leave lawyer to help you navigate the process of filing a complaint. The EEOC handles workplace discrimination claims and FMLA violations. The EEOC will launch an investigation into your situation after it receives your complaint.

In almost every case, the EEOC will issue the complainant a “right to sue” letter that enables the employee to pursue a lawsuit against an employer in violation. If you have received a “right to sue” letter, need help with the process, or just have questions about your case—the Los Angeles pregnancy leave attorneys at Mathew & George can help. Call us today for a free initial consultation.