In California, pregnant women are protected from harassment and discrimination and they are entitled to accommodations for their pregnancy, reassignment to a less strenuous position and to take leave for the baby's birth. Likewise, men are entitled to take up to 12 weeks (unpaid leave) for the birth of a child. (California Government Code " Cal. Govt. Code" Section 12945.2(c)(2)(A).)
Have You Been Discriminated Against or Harassed for Being Pregnant?
The Dolan Law Firm has handled numerous cases of pregnancy discrimination, harassment and denial of pregnancy leave with significant results for our satisfied customers. Contact us online or call 415.421.2800 for a free case evaluation. We are contingent fee lawyers who get paid only if we achieve a recovery for you.
It is unlawful for an employer or co-employee to harass a female on the basis of pregnancy. We have seen horrendous cases where female employees have been subjected to comments such as "fat pregnant cow," "whale," "breeder" and other comments such as requests for breast milk that have led to lawsuits and significant settlements. Likewise, we have handled cases where women have been harassed not to become pregnant and for getting pregnant. Harassment can be both sex harassment and pregnancy harassment because the comments are usually directed to one sex. Harassment is unlawful and you should contact the Dolan Law Firm online or call 415.421.2800 immediately if you are subject to unlawful harassment.
An employer may not demote, fire or refuse to hire a woman because she is or is planning on becoming pregnant. This is unlawful under Cal. Govt. Code Section 12945.
If a pregnant woman, with the advice and assistance of her health care provider, requests a reasonable accommodation, an employer must provide that accommodation unless doing so would create an undue hardship on the employer. (Cal. Govt. Code 12945(c)(1).) Failure to engage in an interactive process or to provide a reasonable accommodation is a violation of the law and may result in a damage award.
Transfer to a Less Strenuous Position
An employer has an obligation, at the request of a pregnant woman, to transfer her to a less strenuous position as a reasonable accommodation if the woman and her health care provider make such a request and there is a position that requires less strenuous work. An employer is not required to create employment that it would not have otherwise created, discharge an employee, transfer an employee with more seniority, or promote someone not qualified simply to create a less strenuous position. (Cal. Govt. Code 12945(c)(3).)
Under California Law, set forth in the California Government Code at Section 12945, the law states that it shall be an unlawful employment practice, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification:
(a) For an employer to refuse to allow a female employee disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions to take a leave for a reasonable period of time not to exceed four months and thereafter return to work, as set forth in the commission's regulations. The employee shall be entitled to utilize any accrued vacation leave during this period of time. Reasonable period of time means that period during which the female employee is disabled on account of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
An employer may require an employee who plans to take a leave pursuant to this subdivision to give the employer reasonable notice of the date the leave shall commence and the estimated duration of the leave.
(b)(1) For an employer to refuse to provide reasonable accommodation for an employee for conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, if she so requests, with the advice of her health care provider.
(2) For an employer who has a policy, practice, or collective bargaining agreement requiring or authorizing the transfer of temporarily disabled employees to less strenuous or hazardous positions for the duration of the disability to refuse to transfer a pregnant female employee who so requests.
(3) For an employer to refuse to temporarily transfer a pregnant female employee to a less strenuous or hazardous position for the duration of her pregnancy if she so requests, with the advice of her physician, where that transfer can be reasonably accommodated. However, no employer shall be required by this section to create additional employment that the employer would not otherwise have created, nor shall the employer be required to discharge any employee, transfer any employee with more seniority, or promote any employee who is not qualified to perform the job.
An employee who knows she is pregnant and will be taking leave should provide an employer with as much notice as possible.
Can You Quit if Conditions Are Intolerable?
The law recognizes that sometimes conditions get so bad that people have no reasonable alternative but to quit their employment rather than endure continued unlawful conduct. An employee cannot just quit and sue because of one simple incident. The conditions must be of such severity and frequency that a reasonable person would think that there is no alternative and that he or she was, in effect, constructively terminated. You should first report the conditions through your company's complaint procedure, where possible, before you quit or your rights to recover damages may be reduced. For more information on constructive wrongful termination, click here.
What to Do if You Have Been Treated Unlawfully
Many companies have policies regarding procedures to be followed if you have a complaint regarding workplace safety within their company handbooks. Likewise, they may require that you follow a certain channel of communication in reporting unsafe conditions and/or retaliation for complaining of unsafe conditions. You should follow these procedures and document your actions in writing. Failure to follow these procedures may lead to a denial of your legal right to recover certain damages like punitive damages.
You have a limited period of time to act to protect your rights. Failure to act promptly may eliminate your right to take legal action. For more information on these statutes of limitations, click here.
Speak To a Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney Today
If you believe that you are being discriminated against or harassed because of your pregnancy, contact us online or call 415.421.2800 for a free case evaluation.
People who have suffered unlawful conduct in California in violation of their rights under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (such as discrimination or harassment based on membership in a protected classification) must file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) generally within one year of the conduct (there are limited exceptions) or they may lose their right to pursue legal action.