A former employee is alleging that the San Francisco law firm of Arnold & Porter, as well as the staffing agency that placed her with the firm, has discriminated against her due to her pregnancy She claims that she was terminated after supervisors found out she was pregnant.
The employee alleges that she was hired by a staffing agency to work as an office assistant at Arnold & Porter. She was working for $15 per hour. When she was hired, she was given a three-month probationary period. Less than two months into her job, she learned she was pregnant and informed the staffing agency.
The staffing agency employees asked if she had told anyone at the law firm about her pregnancy, and also inquired if she would still be able to perform her work. She was advised that she should keep her pregnancy a secret from the law firm. She complained to a human resources manager for the staffing agency about being discouraged from disclosing her pregnancy. As a result of being told to keep the pregnancy secret, she was forced to cancel appointments with her doctor because they conflicted with her work schedule.
During her probationary period, she received good feedback from her employer. She was told that she could expect to keep her job after the period ended. However, her employment was then terminated several days after the probationary period ended. It remains unclear whether or not her supervisors at the firm were aware of her pregnancy.
In order for the former employee to win her lawsuit, she will have to prove that her employers knew that she was pregnant, and took that pregnancy into consideration when deciding not to extend her employment. Pursuant to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, a federal law, discrimination based on pregnancy is illegal when it comes to any aspect of employment. This includes hiring, firing, compensation, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.
In some cases, a woman will become temporarily unable to perform her job because of a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. If that occurs, the employer must treat the woman in the same way it treats any other temporarily disabled employee. The employer may be required to provide another assignment, disability leave, unpaid leave, or light duty, if that is the employer’s policy for other temporarily disabled employees.
In addition, some women have serious medical impairments related to their pregnancy. They may have gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, which is pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. Those conditions could be considered disabilities, which would entitle the female employee to be treated in a similar way to other disabled individuals under the Americans with Disabilities Act. An employer may have to provide a female employee with a reasonable accommodation, such as frequent breaks or modifications in her job duties, unless that accommodation would cause the employer undue hardship.
Federal law also requires most employers to offer unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA allows new parents to be eligible for 12 weeks of leave. The employee must have been with the employer for a year before taking the leave.
California law also gives pregnant women certain rights under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Employers must provide up to four months disability leave for a woman who is disabled because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Employers are also required to provide reasonable accommodation to a pregnant employee when requested.
If you believe you have been discriminated against at work because of pregnancy or a related medical condition, call Oakland pregnancy discrimination attorney Micha Star Liberty at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She works with clients throughout the Oakland-San Francisco area who have been discriminated against in the workplace. Call today to schedule a free consultation on your case.