Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers in Los Angeles
Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace involves the unfair treatment of female employees due to pregnancy, childbirth, or any other related medical condition. According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it is illegal for employers to terminate their employees on the basis of their gender or pregnancy.
Can I be fired for taking maternity leave?
No, you cannot be fired for taking maternity leave. California employers are strictly prohibited from employment discrimination against people due to being pregnant, or any other protected class such as race, age, and national origin.If you are fired or disciplined because of your pregnancy or maternity leave, you can sue your employer for pregnancy discrimination.
California juries are very sympathetic to employees who have been victims of employment discrimination, and for being fired while they’re pregnant or because they are pregnant. California juries are very motivated to protect women’s rights to take maternity leave and provide for their children.
The law is also very accommodating to pregnant employees, in terms of your ability to have an effective claim that your pregnancy was a substantial motivating factor, as it related to your discipline, demotion, or termination.
We highly recommend that if any of these situations do occur while you are pregnant, you contact an experienced employment lawyer right away to evaluate your case against pregnancy discrimination. Feel free to contact us today!
Should I notify my employer if I am pregnant to avoid pregnancy discrimination?
Yes, we strongly suggest that you immediately notify your employer if you are pregnant, and request the amount of maternity leave that you are entitled to. An employee should notify her employer that she is pregnant, ideally via email. This prevents the employer from later trying to deny that knowledge. Once the employer is properly notified, any future discipline or employment termination of the pregnant employee, is therefore understood to fall under pregnancy discrimination.
Without such notification, an employer might claim they couldn’t have breached the pregnancy discrimination act, because he or she did not know about the employee’s pregnancy. For example, they might say it was simply a coincidence that they decided to eliminate several positions (including yours). If this is the case, then your termination would not be classified as pregnancy discrimination.
So we definitely recommend that you inform your employer about your pregnancy, preferably via email from your personal account. This way there is proof that the notification was delivered and you will be protected against pregnancy discrimination.
In large organizations, we recommend that you email the Human Resources Department, alerting them that you are pregnant and asking about the company policies regarding maternity leave. The employer or HR Department should respond that the employee is entitled to either FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) or CFRA (California Family Rights Act ) leave.
What if I didn’t notify my employer in writing?
Not to worry. Though it is always good to alert your employer or HR Department in writing that you are pregnant to protect yourself against pregnancy discrimination, in many cases employees do not, for fear that they will be disciplined or fired.
Whether or not your employer knew you were pregnant is usually not the battleground. In many cases, they will instead claim that they had other reasons for a termination or disciplinary action which do not fall under employment discrimination. They may cite work performance, disciplinary issues, or interpersonal issues with co-workers or other supervisors.
Those kinds of excuses for pregnancy discrimination can be overcome by showing you had worked for years with positive annual employment reviews or with other performance indications that there was no performance issue until you became pregnant. This is how an employee can show that the pregnancy was in fact the main motivating factor for termination or other adverse employment action as per the pregnancy discrimination act.
What are the FMLA and CFRA?
The term “FMLA” represents the Family and Medical Leave Act, which is a federal law that guarantees certain employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave each year with no threat of losing their jobs. FMLA also requests that employers covered by the law maintain the health benefits for eligible workers just as if they were working.
FMLA is federal while CFRA is state. If you work at the post office, you have to take FMLA leave, because that’s a federal employer. On the other hand, if you work at any other private organization or even a state governmental agency, then CFRA leave is more beneficial to employees.
CFRA leave is the California version of FMLA, available to employees who have worked for a company with more than 50 employees for over one year. Sometimes smaller employers also allow FMLA leave even though they are not required to by law. As a benefit of employment, those employees are still protected by the CFRA law, meaning their positions are protected against employment discrimination for up to 12 weeks of leave.
If you work for a small employer, you need to make sure you get a CFRA certification signed by the employer and your doctor within 15 days of the start of your leave as per the family and medical leave act. Not all medical leaves are CFRA-qualified medical leaves. In order to designate your medical leave as a CFRA leave, a specially designed form must be completed.
Certain companies use specially designed forms. If your employer is not one of those employers that uses the specially designed form, a generic CFRA leave form is available from the State of California Employment Development Department (EDD) website. There are also other websites where you can download a CFRA or an FMLA form.
What is the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL)?
Beyond the 12th week of CFRA leave, there is something called Pregnancy Disability Leave Law. With your doctor’s certification, no matter how long you’ve worked for your employer, you can take up to four months of Pregnancy Disability Leave. This applies in the case that your doctor certifies your pregnancy as dangerous to you or to your fetus or even after you deliver, and if you are still recovering from the effects of your delivery or cesarean section.
Pregnancy Disability Leave can be used in combination with CFRA leave, giving a pregnant employee up to four months of Pregnancy Disability Leave followed by up to 12 weeks of CFRA leave. Together, that’s almost seven months off. In addition to all of this, there are laws that protect pregnant employees from pregnancy discrimination in the state of California.
How Panitz Law Group APC can help your case against pregnancy discrimination
Our firm has a wealth of experience in dealing with pregnancy discrimination and retaliation cases. In the last ten years we’ve handled more than ten pregnancy discrimination lawsuits and most recently obtained an $800,000 settlement for a pregnant client who was fired from her job of just two years prior to giving birth.
If you have been a victim to employment discrimination, you should contact our firm right away. Our experienced employment lawyers in Los Angeles will work closely with you to make sure that your case against pregnancy discrimination is settled and won.