Employment Rights As A Pregnant Woman

Employment Rights As A Pregnant Woman?

What Are My Employment Rights As A Pregnant Woman?

There are millions of employed women in the United States, yet only about one third of them work for businesses with maternity leave policies, and half of all pregnant women have no choice but to take their leave without pay. Aggrieved pregnant women must often use a combination of time off for vacation, parental leave, short-term disability, or sick leave.

It is important for all pregnant women —  and any women who are thinking of becoming pregnant — to understand their legal rights under state and federal laws. Federal regulations will not necessarily guarantee your right to maternity leave under all circumstances, and state regulations will vary throughout the United States. However, what you are guaranteed is a right to a disability leave if your employer offers disability leave for other medical reasons.

What Are The Most Important Pregnancy Leave Laws And Policies?

How Do I File A Pregnancy Discrimination Claim?

What Are The Most Important Pregnancy Leave Laws And Policies?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

An amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was the first piece of federal legislation clearly stating that a woman cannot be fired because she is pregnant. 

The following regulations apply to all businesses with fifteen or more employees:

  • Treats pregnancy, childbirth, and any pregnancy related medical conditions on an equal basis with all other medical conditions or short-term disabilities.
  • An employer cannot establish a policy prohibiting you from returning to work after a predetermined time frame once you have given birth. An employer must also keep a job open for a pregnancy related absence for the same duration of time that all other jobs are held open for any employee who is on disability or sick leave.
  • An employer cannot refuse to hire, promote, or force you to go on leave; they also cannot deny you benefits while you’re on maternity leave, such as vacation days or pay increases.
  • If you cannot perform your job because of your pregnancy, an employer must treat you like they would any other temporarily disabled employee and offer accommodations.

The National Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

Basic Provisions:

  • Applies to all businesses with fifty or more employees.
  • An employee must be given his or her original position, or a comparable job, after returning to work.
  • An employer must provide health benefits for any employee who is on leave.
  • Allows up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave per year to take care of a newborn or an adopted child.
  • Applies to any workers who were employed on a full-time basis for one year; or for part-time employees who worked for at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months.

Business Provisions:

  • Exempts all businesses with less than fifty employees.
  • If allowing an employee to take a leave creates substantial injury to business operations, a business is allowed to deny this benefit to any salaried employees who are within the highest paid 10 percent of its workforce.
  • If an employee does not return to work, an employer can recapture any healthcare premiums paid during that leave.
  • An employer is allowed to obtain up to three medical opinions on the need for the leave.

What Are The FMLA And The CFRA?

FMLA stands for the Family Medical Leave Act. Under the FMLA, a pregnant employee is entitled to receive up to 12 weeks for time off before, during, and after the birth of a child. California law also provides time off under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) for pregnancy disability leave that is separate from FMLA leave time. 

The FMLA doesn’t require a leave to be taken by the day or by the week. If you have a condition that requires medical treatment a few times a week, it’s conceivable that you could use your FMLA leave in hour long chunks. An employer, regardless of their preference, would be obligated to approve, if the situation deemed it necessary.

Also, unless your situation is an emergency, an employee must give their employer at least thirty days notice that they intend to use their FMLA benefits. 

How Do I File A Pregnancy Discrimination Claim?

The first step is to file a charge with the EEOC. The agency will then investigate the allegations of pregnancy discrimination and determine whether there is enough evidence to move forward. The investigation process typically involves several interviews with the employee and any relevant managers or supervisors.

Once the EEOC confirms the allegations, the agency will file a formal lawsuit on behalf of the pregnant worker. If the EEOC does not confirm the allegations, it will issue a letter to the employee which allows her to proceed with her own legal representation.

A pregnancy discrimination claim will involve four elements. The employee must first prove that she is or was pregnant when the discrimination took place. She must also prove that she was qualified for the job that she was doing, and that she was ultimately terminated. Finally, she must prove that she was fired because she was pregnant.

The burden of proof will then shift to the employer. The employer has to prove that the employee was fired for another valid reason that had nothing to do with her pregnancy. If the employer can successfully prove this, it is on the employee to prove that the discrimination she suffered was deliberate. This can be accomplished once she shows that the employer’s reason is just a pretext, or an excuse, for deliberate discrimination.

What Can West Coast Employment Lawyers Do For You?

If you have made up your mind to take action, it is important to work with an attorney that specializes in cases like yours. The pregnancy discrimination lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers have extensive experience handling pregnancy discrimination cases. We will work tirelessly to gather the facts, find and interview eyewitnesses, hire experts, and fight for your rights.

We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get attorney’s fees if we are able to recover for you. Our legal team is available 24/7 and will take care of your case from start to finish. For a free no-obligation consultation with a pregnancy discrimination attorney in California, contact our office at 1-800-247-9235.

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