Both the Federal Title VII and California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) prohibit employers from discriminating against any employee for becoming pregnant or requesting leave associated with pregnancy. To establish a case of pregnancy discrimination, the employee must show that her employer knew that she was pregnant.
Under Title VII, the woman affected by the pregnancy must be treated the same for all employment-related purposes as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability to work.
Under FEHA, an employer may not discriminate against an employee for being pregnant. Also under FEHA it is unlawful for employers to refuse to provide reasonable accommodation requested by the pregnant employee on the advice of her healthcare provider. The FEHA applies if the employer has had five or more full time employees over the prior year.
Another statute, the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (“PDLL”) requires employers to provide up to four months of leave for employees actually “disabled” by pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. The PDLL provides pregnancy leave even when the employer's policies do not grant leave for other short-term disabilities.
After having a child the mother may entitled to an additional 12-weeks of leave for that reason under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) which is California's state version of the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Whether leave is available depends on the employment circumstances (please see the family and medical leave practice area section).
California case law has recently clarified that pregnancy discrimination not only violates the California Family Rights Act, but the Government Code. This means that you are entitled to a reasonable accommodation and an interactive dialog based on your sex (female) and protected condition (pregnancy). You may no longer be fired for exceeding your protected 12 to 16 weeks pregnancy leave.
Ms. Sanchez was a loyal employee of Swiss Port, this most recent and landmark decision. Long story short, she was promptly fired at the conclusion of her 12 weeks of leave under California, Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL.). This can be extended for up to 16 weeks if the pregnancy is complex. Se sure to get a doctor's certification if that is the case. In any event, the company claimed tht they had fully complied with all legal requirements for pregnancy leave. The Court, on appeal, felt otherwise and concluded that, just like any other protected condition, a pregnant employee should be entitled to additional leave as a form of potentially reasonable accommodation. As a protected condition, this might include not only additional leave, but lighter duties, intermittent time off, assistance at the job site, transfer to a different job, or a myriad of other accommodations. All that is required is that an employee be able to do the essential functions of their job, or be transferred to one which is available and consistent with union eligibility. (A union agreement, sometimes referred to as a Collective Bargaining Agreement, or in the case of many public employees, a Memorandum of Understanding), the courts are required to treat these agreements as federal law, as they are arrived at under the authority of the National Labor Relations Board Act. Thus, the court will not lend itself to enforcement of a settlement or verdict that violates federal law).
The above case is another good example of why every effort should be made to file your pregnancy disability lawsuit in a California state court and allege violations only of California law. As of this writing, decisions under the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity law are not known to provide this protection.
Our sex and pregnancy discrimination lawyers are part of California's largest statewide law firm that's dedicated to representing employees in disputes against their employers. Stephen Danz & Associates based in Los Angeles, California, protects employee/clients from retaliation, discrimination, and harassment involving dismissal, demotion, or denial of accommodation based on age, race, sex, religion, color, sexual orientation, marital status, association, physical or mental disability, or other legally protected classifications. Additionally we represent employees in they have not been paid the proper wages including overtime or minimum wage or given the proper meal breaks. If you believe that you are the victim of discrimination, please contact one Astrid, Kathy or Steve in our main corporate office (877 789 9707) to setup your free consultation. We take cases on a contingency basis and collect no attorney fees unless we win your case.