Understanding Pregnancy Discrimination

Most people have probably heard of racial discrimination and sex discrimination, but some people may be unaware of the existence and persistence of pregnancy discrimination. This type of workplace discrimination occurs when an employer treats a female employee or applicant unfairly because of pregnancy, childbirth or a medical condition related to either. Pregnancy discrimination is not only morally wrong, it is also illegal.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a 1978 amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It forbids discrimination based on pregnancy in all aspects of employment, including hiring and firing, layoffs and promotions, job assignments, pay determination, benefits and leave, and all other terms or conditions of employment.

An employer is required to treat women who are temporarily unable to perform their job duties due to pregnancy or childbirth the same as it would treat any other temporarily disabled employee. Such treatment may include providing light duty or alternative assignments and granting disability leave. Furthermore, if an impairment resulting from pregnancy falls under the purview of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer may be required to provide reasonable accommodations for the pregnant employee in accordance with ADA policy.

Additionally, a pregnant employee or new parent may be entitled to leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act(FMLA) or its California counterpart. Employers cannot deny employees their rightful pregnancy leave.

What To Do If You Experience Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnant employees have certain rights under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and may have additional rights under other federal and/or state laws. If an employer infringes on a pregnant woman’s rights in any way or she is being harassed at work because of pregnancy or childbirth, she should:

  • Write down what happened, including the date, time and who was involved
  • Follow the company’s procedure for reporting discrimination and harassment
  • Keep a timeline, noting when and to whom she reported the discrimination or harassment, what actions were taken, all subsequent conversations with that person or others about the situation, etc.
  • Look around to see if anyone else is being similarly mistreated, as there may be a pattern of discrimination or harassment
  • Contact a qualified Los Angeles employment lawyer to learn about available legal remedies — employees who fear retaliation from their employer may need an attorney from the get-go

Victims of workplace discrimination deserve justice. If you are a victim of pregnancy discrimination, contact a compassionate yet aggressive Los Angeles employment attorney today to stand up for your legal rights.

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