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3 lessons from recent CA pregnancy discrimination case

A case provides valuable lessons for victims of pregnancy discrimination.

Firing an employee simply because she is pregnant is not just morally questionable, it is against the law. Protections are present at both state and federal levels to help reduce the risk of this form of discrimination.

First, a primer on California state law

It is illegal in California to discriminate against a worker because she is pregnant. In fact, California state law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees. This can include temporary modification of work duties and more frequent breaks. The state also requires employers to provide employees with pregnancy disability leave (PDL) of up to four months. The employee’s health care provider generally determines how much PDL is appropriate for the employee. The employer must also provide written notice to the employee that she can return to her previous position once she returns from PDL.

PDL is not a one and done right. Those who need PDL can take it on an as-needed basis. This can result in a reduced work schedule or intermittent leave.

Now, more on the case

The case involves an employee of an Italian restaurant. Instead of discussing PDL and making reasonable accommodations, the employee stated her employer substantially cut her hours and ultimately terminated her position after she announced her pregnancy. She states the employer told her to stay home because she was pregnant and hired less qualified servers in her place.

If substantiated, such actions can be a violation of the California state laws noted above as well as federal law — Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Ultimately, the accused was able to provide enough evidence to lead the employer to offer a settlement. The employer provided almost $20,000 in financial compensation to the employee as well as agreed to conduct a review and revision of policies to avoid similar violations in the future.

Final piece, three things others in similar situations can learn from this case

The case, unfortunately, is not uncommon. Those who find themselves dealing with similar forms of discrimination should note the following from this case:

  • It takes a bit of effort to hold an employer accountable. The employee did need to put in some work to hold the offending employer accountable for their wrongdoing. Simply noting the violation is generally not enough. The employee will likely need to reach out to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and an attorney to move the case forward.
  • Violators are held accountable. Once the employee got the case moving and was able to provide evidence to back up the allegation, she was able to establish the employer violated the law. Getting everything put together may seem like an overwhelming burden, but victims can have legal counsel represent their interests.
  • Victims can find justice. In the end, the victim was able to receive financial compensation as well as the assurance the employer would adjust its practices to reduce the risk others would go through the same experience.

Although the process can require a bit of work, victims will hopefully take heart in the fact that justice can be served. If you or a loved one was the victim of discrimination due to pregnancy, contact an attorney to discuss your options.