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Pregnancy Discrimination in The Workplace

Guha Law Sept. 14, 2021

Many healthy mothers in California are able to work through their entire pregnancy. When a woman is pregnant, it’s her decision whether to take time off from work or not. If an employer fires or doesn’t hire a woman just because she’s pregnant, this is considered pregnancy discrimination.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, or PDA, is a federal law that protects pregnant women from employment discrimination. The PDA only applies to workplaces that have at least 15 employees, but there are other regional protections that may apply to smaller businesses.

Under the PDA, an employer cannot discriminate against a worker because she is pregnant or might become pregnant. Discrimination is not allowed in all aspects of employment, including:

  • Hiring

  • Firing

  • Promotions

  • Employment benefits

  • Wages

Employers are also not allowed to treat pregnant employees differently than other employees while they’re working. However, a pregnant woman may ask for reasonable work accommodations, which her employer is obligated to provide.

Maternity Leave

Some women have to take maternity leave early on in their pregnancies for medical reasons. In other cases, women take some time off near the end of their pregnancies and during their baby’s first few weeks or months. In either case, employers are obligated to respect a woman’s right to take maternity leave by holding the job open for her.

What to Do if You Have Been Discriminated Against

If you were passed over for a promotion or fired during your pregnancy, you may have been illegally discriminated against. A lawyer may be able to help you file a claim for pregnancy discrimination and pursue financial compensation for your lost wages.