According to federal law, California employees cannot be discriminated against for many reasons. Those include race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability and pregnancy. When a pregnant employee, or even a pregnant applicant, is treated differently because of their condition, the company may be in violation of these laws.
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission refers to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to clarify situations when discrimination may be present. This can include firing, pay, hiring, promotions, job assignments, training, layoff and fringe benefits like health insurance or leave. If you become pregnant, you should feel secure that you can still do your job and be treated equally to your co-workers.
If a pregnancy-related condition leaves you unable to perform your job, you should be treated the same way another temporarily disabled employee would be treated. This may include alternative assignments, light duty, unpaid leave or disability leave. Whatever is offered to disabled employees must also be offered to pregnant employees.
Pregnant employees who have pregnancy-related impairments such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes may also be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. It may be required for an employer to provide modifications or leave as a reasonable accommodation, as medical conditions are considered covered disabilities.
It is not just employers or co-workers who may harass pregnant women. Customers and clients can also discriminate against and harass pregnant women. If you are pregnant and feel you have been harassed severely and frequently enough to create a hostile work environment, or you have been demoted or fired because of your condition, you may have an argument for pregnancy discrimination.
This information is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.