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Workplace Discrimination Against Pregnant Women

Pregnant Woman at Work

Discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace is an insidious form of gender discrimination. Although protection exists in employment law for pregnant women, some of the forms of discrimination can be more difficult to quantify than an obvious firing. If you think your standing at work has been undermined because of a pregnancy, talk to an employment lawyer with experience in cases involving gender discrimination in San Jose, CA . Knowing your rights under California employment law is an important step in protecting yourself from bias.


Legal Protections for Pregnant Women

Federal laws protect women from discrimination based on pregnancy. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 requires that employers treat pregnancy in the same way they would any short-term disability, as long as the company has 15 employees or more. It also defined that pregnant women must be allowed to work as long as they are able to work. The Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, which was established in 1993, states that all companies with more than 50 employees must allow pregnant women 12 weeks of unpaid leave for childbirth, provided that the woman has been a full time employee for a year or has 1,250 hours of work on record. In recent years, however, courts have ruled that employers can terminate employees on FMLA leave if they can prove the position has been eradicated due to downsizing.

Circumventing the Laws

Many employers don’t outwardly violate these protections but instead do so in ways that are more difficult to prove. On returning to work, women may find themselves demoted. They may be excluded from important projects and skipped over for opportunities for which they are qualified. Although employment law prevents retaliation against employees who claim discrimination, often women who file complaints are eventually fired. Their employers simply wait a sufficient amount of time between the complaint and the termination to link the firing to something else.

Finding Help

Although it can be extremely difficult to prove these allegations, discrimination lawyers recommend that women keep precise records if they believe pregnancy is being used against them. Talk to an employment lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can protect your job and seek damages where relevant.