Pregnancy discrimination can be based on actual pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions related to the pregnancy. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on any of these factors, or to ask if a female employee is or intends to become pregnant.
Pregnancy discrimination often occurs when a well-regarded employee is treated differently after announcing that she is pregnant. After the announcement or after a maternity leave, the employee is treated adversely – as if she is no longer focused on her job. For example, pregnancy discrimination may occur when the employer denies the employee’s request for maternity leave, passes her over for promotion, demotes or fires her, removes job responsibilities, increases her workload, gives her poor performance reviews, or encourages her to quit.
Moreover, California law extends protection to breastfeeding or medical conditions related to breastfeeding. This means that employers may not take any adverse action against employees based on breastfeeding. This includes decisions regarding pay, as well as disciplinary action. Additionally, employers may not harass breastfeeding employees or create a hostile work environment, by, for example, teasing or making inappropriate comments related to breastfeeding.
The California Labor Code also requires employers to provide reasonable breaks to mothers who wish to express breast milk, and must make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with a private room to express milk, other than a restroom stall.
If you believe that your employer violated any of these conditions, it is important to speak with an experienced pregnancy discrimination attorney at Workplace Justice Advocates, A Professional Law Corporation, to understand your rights and legal options.