Pregnancy Discrimination

Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), discrimination against pregnant women is illegal. Discrimination on the basis of "pregnancy, child birth, or related medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth" is treated as sex discrimination under California law. To prove pregnancy discrimination, the plaintiff must show that:

  • Her employer knew she was pregnant;
  • That she suffered an adverse employment action, such as a demotion or termination; and
  • That pregnancy was a motivating factor for the employer's adverse action.

According to the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law, if you work for an employer with five or more employees and are disabled by pregnancy, you are entitled to up to four months of Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL). The employer is not required to pay for PDL leave unless it pays for other temporary disability leaves. If the employer provides health insurance benefits for other temporary disability leaves, then it must maintain heath insurance during PDL as well. If you have an insurance co-payment, then you may need to pay this by check. PDL may be taken "as needed" or intermittently. For example, a pregnant worker may need time off in the first trimester for nausea, then feel better and not need any time off until just before delivery.

The employer must return a woman rejoining the workforce after PDL to the same or a comparable position. Otherwise, it is considered discrimination and she may have grounds for a pregnancy discrimination case. 

PDL is separate and distinct from "baby bonding" time off, which is covered by the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and Family and Medical Leave Act. Only employers with 50 or more employees must provide CFRA/FMLA leave (see Medical & Family Leave Violations). The maximum leave available is four months PDL, plus 12 weeks CFRA/FMLA, for a total of approximately seven months.

If you wish to express milk upon returning to work, your employer must provide you with reasonable breaks and a private place other than in a toilet stall to express milk.

If you believe you have been subjected to pregnancy discrimination according to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act or the FEHA, it's important to seek a discrimination lawyer swiftly. Our discrimination attorneys have successfully litigated pregnancy discrimination cases in an array of forums.  In most cases, we explore settlement and advocate for our clients in mediation. Where an advantageous settlement cannot be achieved, we are known for our adept and tenacious advocacy through trial, and, if necessary, appeals.