An employer cannot infringe upon a woman’s right to bear and rear children. California state and U.S. Federal Law prohibit employers from discriminating against women for becoming pregnant, giving birth or taking maternity leave.
The law considers pregnancy or maternity discrimination to be similar to sex and disability discrimination. Employers cannot terminate, demote or harass women after becoming pregnant, while on maternity leave or returning from maternity leave. In addition, businesses cannot deny mothers promotional opportunities and other equitable rewards.
But surprisingly, pregnancy discrimination still exists, and many cases continue to work through the California court system.
Protecting your family and livelihood
Federal and California Law protect expectant and new mothers, so employers must make reasonable accommodations to mothers under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Thus, employers need to allow four months of unpaid time off. Under the Family Maternity and Leave Act (FMLA), a pregnant woman can take up to 12 weeks of time off to bond and tend to the child.
While an employer cannot fire, demote, harass or otherwise not accommodate a pregnant woman or mother, the discrimination can be much more subtle. In some cases, employers do not award the same amount in wages, pass over working mothers for promotion or mothers do enjoy the same benefits as men in the same role.
What to do if you’ve suffered discrimination
The first step is file a wrongful termination or discrimination claim against your employer. You need to examine the facts and details of your case. Then you need to determine if the employer has indeed violated applicable state and federal laws.
For many cases, you can file with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housingor you can file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Filing with the FEHA is a better option for most employees because it’s often more efficient and effective to pursue the case through the state system. In addition, the Family and Medical Leave Act affords other pregnancy rights under the U.S. Department of Labor. When you file, you divulge the basic information of the case when filing the charges.
Becoming a mother should not jeopardize your career in way, sort or manner. State and federal law protects you from losing your job, being harassed or suffering any form of discrimination.