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Job protection and accommodation rights for pregnant employees

Federal laws protect people in California from workplace discrimination during a pregnancy or illness. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act applies to organizations that employ 15 or more people. The law requires employers to treat pregnant employees the same as other people in regards to firing, hiring and promotion eligibility.

The PDA also provides pregnant workers with protection from harassment. The act obliges employers to grant reasonable accommodations so that people can continue to perform their jobs. These accommodations could include additional bathroom breaks or the flexibility to work from home.

The Family Medical Leave Act represents another law that guarantees 12 weeks of medical leave for employees with medical conditions. The act, however, does not apply to all employers. In some situations, an employee might gain workplace protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Although the law does regard pregnancy as a disability, many conditions related to pregnancy qualify for protection.

Harassment of pregnant individuals could take multiple forms. Some employees might suddenly find that co-workers want to touch them. Management might deny chances to learn new skills or receive a promotion. Discussions about the person’s body could also leave an employee feeling uncomfortable.

When someone feels mistreated at work, a formal complaint to human resources might be necessary, but the person should first consult an attorney. Legal advice could reveal whether treatment on the job could be workplace discrimination. An attorney could provide advice about how to document incidents of harassment or discrimination. The attorney could then include this information within a lawsuit against the employer. This action might prompt an employer to correct the situation at work or offer a settlement. When necessary, an attorney might recommend that the case go to trial if an employer refuses to recognize responsibility.