Workplace pregnancy discrimination law: what you need to know

| Jan 15, 2021 | employee rights |

Pregnant women and women who have a pregnancy-related condition have more protection under California law than they may realize. In fact, the right to pregnancy leave is not the only right you have. Other issues that count as discrimination relate to pay, unfair treatment, and harassment.

What counts as workplace pregnancy discrimination?

The law recognizes various situations besides hiring and firing based on pregnancy as workplace pregnancy discrimination. Other examples of workplace pregnancy discrimination are changing your pay, laying you off, withholding your right to leave and to your health insurance, and infringing upon other terms and conditions of employment.

Women who have a medical condition from pregnancy or childbirth receive the same protections under discrimination law. Employers typically cannot decrease your pay, lay you off, or fire you based on a medical condition that you got from being pregnant or giving birth. All of your employee rights are still valid.

Employment law states that employers must make accommodations

Employment law considers pregnancy-related disability issues protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Women who have a temporary disability from their pregnancies or from giving birth can receive accommodations at their workplaces to make their jobs easier to do. Employers must offer them the same benefits as they offer other temporarily disabled employees, such as:

  • Disability leave
  • Alternative assignments
  • Lighter workload
  • Unpaid leave

Harassment over your pregnancy

Employment law (employee) protects you from anyone who harasses you about or because of your pregnancy while you’re at work, including customers, co-workers, supervisors, and management from another location or division. Harassment over a pregnancy-related or childbirth-related medical condition is also illegal.

Pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions typically don’t disqualify you from employment. Employers who discriminate against this health issue and anyone who harasses you in the workplace are doing something illegal. Knowing your rights as a pregnant employee and as a new mother is important. You have up to 180 days to file an EEOC complaint. Upon receiving your right to sue in California, you then have 90 days to file your lawsuit in civil court. An attorney may be able to help you navigate these issues of harassment.