If you have just received news that you are pregnant, you may become worried about whether you will lose your job. Is it legal for your employer to fire you because you have become pregnant or if you decide to take maternity leave under maternity leave under California's Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? The answer is no. California's employment laws are crystal clear that employers shall not fire employees solely for being pregnant.
California follows at-will employment laws, which means your employer can fire you at will or without giving you a reason for the firing just as you can leave your job without providing a reason. However, your employer cannot fire you for discriminatory reasons. In other words, they cannot discriminate against you for being pregnant just as they cannot discriminate against you based on other protected characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, gender and disability.
If you believe that your employer has discriminated against you based on your pregnancy, it is imperative that you reach out to a Los Angeles employment lawyer to obtain more information about your legal rights about your legal rights and options.
California Laws Prohibit Pregnancy Discrimination
California law protects employees against all types of discrimination or harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth or any related medical condition. California law also prohibits employers from denying or interfering with an employee's pregnancy-related employment rights. According to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), your employer has an obligation to:
- Reasonably accommodate your medical needs related to pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions such as temporarily changing your work duties, providing you with a chair or allowing more frequent breaks.
- Transfer you to a less dangerous or strenuous position (if one is available) or duties if medically needed because of your pregnancy.
- Provide you with pregnancy disability leave of up to four months and return you to the same job when you are no longer disabled by your pregnancy. Taking this leave, however, does not protect employees from non-leave employment actions such as layoffs.
- Provide reasonable break time and use of a room to express breast milk in private.
How to Prove Pregnancy Discrimination
Pregnancy discrimination is said to occur when your employer treats you differently or discriminates you because of your pregnancy or related conditions. It is important to understand that California does not give any employees special rights because they are pregnant. However, there are strong protections in the law that safeguard pregnant employees from discrimination and harassment.
If you believe that you have been discriminated against or harassed because of your pregnancy, it is important that you reach out to a pregnancy discrimination lawyer right away. A Los Angeles discrimination attorney can help prove that you faced pregnancy discrimination. Here are some of the elements that must be proved in order to establish pregnancy discrimination:
If the timing of your termination was suspicious, that might help prove that you were mistreated because of your pregnancy. However, if your employer has some other compelling reason, the suspicion is not adequate to prove pregnancy discrimination. Here is an example of suspicious timing. Your boss gave you a good performance review and you were in line for a promotion. However, when you got pregnant shortly thereafter, you were fired. This is an instance where you may be able to prove suspicious timing.
What was the Reason for Termination?
If your employer maintains that they fired you for poor job performance while you did better compared to other employees who were not pregnant, you may be able to prove pregnancy discrimination. If the reason for your termination does not quite add up, you may be able to show that the reason for your termination was your pregnancy.
Harassment and Remarks
Often times, when an employer discriminates against an employee based on her pregnancy, it can be quite explicit. For example, if a supervisor or manager remarked during a meeting or someone that pregnant women are a burden to the company because they are not productive, that can be taken as proof of discrimination because they reveal discriminatory thinking and behavior.
How the Company Treated Other Pregnant Employees
If your employer has fired other pregnant employees in the past because of their pregnancy, it may serve as evidence that your employer discriminates against pregnant employees.
Contacting a Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer
Under California law, you should be able to take maternity leave and get back to your job without consequence. A wrongful termination could potentially ruin your career, affect your family's financial situation and cause significant emotional stress for you and your family. It is unlawful for your employer to fire you because of your pregnancy. The experienced California employment discrimination attorneys at Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers are ready to fight for your rights and help you secure justice and fair compensation for your losses. Call us for a free consultation and case evaluation today.