Pregnancy Discrimination

Jody I. LeWitter

Both California state law and federal law provide protections to pregnant employees. Besides providing for leaves of absence (See Leaves of Absence/Retaliation), the law prohibits a variety of discriminatory acts against a pregnant employee. An employee cannot be terminated for being pregnant or taking a protected pregnancy leave of absence. Similarly, an employee cannot be demoted or treated differently in a variety of other ways because she is pregnant. Generally, an employee eligible for a pregnancy leave must be returned to the same position.

In addition, an employer should provide an employee with a reasonable accommodation for any condition related to pregnancy, childbirth or any related medical condition. Further, an employer can’t retaliate against an employee for exercising her right to ask for or take such a reasonable accommodation.

Numerous cases arise when employers or managers buy into old, stereotyped beliefs that a pregnant employee won’t return from a leave of absence or won’t go the extra mile. In addition, managers sometimes decide that pregnant employees are more expendable than others, again, based upon stereotyped notions about pregnant employees or new moms, or because they simply don’t want to accommodate the right to a pregnancy leave. It is your right to have a child, take a pregnancy leave, and be judged by your performance in the workplace, not your family decisions.

Siegel LeWitter Malkani has proudly represented pregnant women and new moms in the workplace for years. Our cases include:

  • In 1992 we represented a pregnant employee fired by her employer, who claimed a variety of pretextual reasons for her termination. A San Francisco jury agreed with us that the employee was really fired due to her pregnancy. This was the largest reported employment case in San Francisco Superior Court that year.
  • In these tough economic times, Siegel LeWitter Malkani has successfully represented many pregnant employees whose employers have terminated their employment by selecting the pregnant employee for layoff and leaving on board less highly qualified non-pregnant employees. We have challenged both whether there really was a legitimate lay off and whether our client was illegally selected for lay off due to her pregnancy or protected leave of absence, rather than for legitimate reasons.

If you believe Siegel LeWitter Malkani could provide assistance to you about a possible pregnancy discrimination case, please contact the firm.

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