Pregnant women are legally protected from harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Under federal laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Family and Medical Leave Act, and a California law called the Fair Employment and Housing Act, women are afforded certain legal protections due to pregnancy.

An employer may not harass a female employee on the basis of pregnancy, or for getting pregnant. Generally, the unlawful conduct must be considered severe and pervasive to be actionable. It is also unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a female employee on the basis of pregnancy.

Simply put, an employer may not refuse to hire, demote (or change employment terms), fail to accommodate, or fire a woman because she is, or is planning on becoming, pregnant. Some examples of possible harassment on the basis of pregnancy could include: refusing to hire women of a certain age for fear they may become pregnant, refusing to hire a woman who is already pregnant, refusing to allow reasonable amounts of time off work for doctor’s appointments, and passing a woman over for a promotion because she is pregnant or may become pregnant.

Federal and state laws also require employers to offer women maternity leave. If you are eligible under federal and state laws (generally by working a certain length of time for employers of a certain size), employers are required to allow women to have 12 weeks of unpaid leave following the birth or adoption of a child, or the placement of a foster child into your home. A pregnant woman may choose to replace those 12 unpaid weeks with paid leave that she is owed, such as vacation time or sick time. During that time, employers are also required to continue any employment benefits, like health insurance, although employees must pay the premiums. Once returning from maternity leave, an employer must restore the employee to the original job or to an equivalent job.

In California, a woman who has experienced pregnancy discrimination has only one year to pursue legal action or may be forever barred from doing so. Therefore, if your employer has discriminated against you because of your pregnancy, it’s important to seek legal representation immediately so that you can preserve your rights. You could be entitled to compensation for lost wages, or to have your position restored, or another legal option.


At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes women should not be discriminated against in the workplace on the basis of pregnancy. If they are, they should pursue all of the legal options available to them. If you believe you have been the victim of harassment or discrimination because of your pregnancy, call Micha Star Liberty at Liberty Law at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. She will work hard to protect your legal rights, and to help you get your job back or obtain compensation for lost wages and other expenses. She works with clients in the Oakland area, including San Francisco, Fairfield, Tracy, Hayward, Berkeley, and the surrounding areas. Call today to learn more.



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