San Francisco Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer

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The birth of a child is both a joyous and stressful event in a woman's life.  Juggling a career and new family member can be challenging and your employer should recognize that. Your employer should understand that you may need accommodations to perform your job while you are pregnant and/or that you will need to take time off to care for your newborn.

Too often, employers treat their pregnant employees unfavorably, mistakenly believing that they are no longer focused on their work. If you're based in the San Francisco Bay Area and believe your employer has violated your rights as a pregnant employee, the Sampath Law Firm can help. Contact us today by filling out our online form or calling (415) 231-5854.

What Is Pregnancy Discrimination? 

Pregnancy discrimination may come in a variety of forms, such as:

  • Denying the 12-week protected leave the employee should have received under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

  • Denying up to 4 months of protected Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) to a qualified employee

  • Not hiring an employee because they are pregnant

  • Being told an employee's role is no longer available after maternity leave

  • Pushing the employee out the door (a process known as “constructive discharge l”) by increasing workload upon return from maternity leave and increased scrutiny of performance that did not exist prior to the leave

  • Being passed over for promotions due to pregnancy

  • Denying paid family leave to eligible parents

  • Terminating or demoting a parent for taking eligible paid family leave

The above list may not be exhaustive. Contact the San Francisco-based Sampath Law Firm today if you believe you have a pregnancy discrimination claim against your employer.

What Accommodations Must Employers Provide to Pregnant Employees?

Under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers with 15+ employees must provide “reasonable accommodations” for common pregnancy-related conditions. These reasonable accommodations include:

  • Scheduling flexibility to accommodate for pregnancy-induced conditions, such as morning sickness

  • Additional breaks

  • Nursing accommodations

  • The ability to avoid physically-demanding work

  • The flexibility to tend to doctors' appointments or health complications as required

  • The ability to work remotely

What is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)?

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is a new law (effective June 27, 2023) requiring employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to workers with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless doing so causes “undue hardship” for the employer. It applies to accommodations and doesn't replace more protective federal, state, or local laws.

The PWFA protects employees and applicants of covered employers, which include private and public sector employers with at least 15 employees, Congress, Federal agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations. As stated in the previous section, “reasonable accommodations” may include things like the ability to sit, have flexible hours, take additional breaks, and be excused from laborious activities.

The PWFA also prohibits employers from:

  • Forcing accommodations without discussion,

  • Denying employment opportunities due to accommodation needs,

  • Making employees take leave if another accommodation is possible, and

  • Retaliating against individuals for reporting discrimination, or interfering with PWFA rights.

Relevant Federal Laws for Pregnant Employees

Other relevant laws for pregnant workers include:

  • Title VII: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is enforced by the EEOC, protects employees from discrimination due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Additionally, employers must treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions in the same way as other employees similar in their ability or inability to work. This includes accommodations, leave policies, and health benefits. These Title VII provisions are further bolstered by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), which amended Title VII to explicitly cover pregnancy discrimination under its umbrella of sex discrimination.

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which is also enforced by the EEOC, protects employees against disability-based discrimination. Though pregnancy is not considered a disability under the ADA, some pregnancy-related impairments may constitute a disability.

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993: The FMLA, enforced by the United States Department of Labor, offers eligible employees unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons.

  • The PUMP Act: This act provides protections for nursing mothers in the workplace. The PUMP Act requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom space for nursing parents to express breast milk during their child's first year of life. It also protects these employees from workplace retaliation and extends coverage to include a wider range of working mothers.

Contact an Experienced Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer in San Francisco

Pregnancy discrimination is a form of gender discrimination. Whether this discrimination comes in the form of protected medical leave violations, retaliation for taking leave, or harassment, the Sampath Law employment law firm is here to help. If you believe you have suffered pregnancy discrimination, contact our San Francisco office to see if you have a potential case. We can explain the law and vigorously fight on your behalf.

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At The Sampath Law Firm, we focus on employment law and we are here to listen to you and help you navigate the legal system.

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