Pregnancy can perhaps be considered as one of the most miraculous events that a woman may experience. As a working woman, however, being pregnant can take a strain on your career. This isn’t always the case, but if you have a competitive job, taking a leave may not always be favorable for employers. If an employer is not willing to accept your leave and terminates your employment, you may have the opportunity to file a wrongful termination case against your employer.

As an employee and as a pregnant woman, you should know that you have certain legal rights that can protect you against wrongful termination. This article will highlight those legal rights as well as what factors to consider once you have been wrongfully terminated for being pregnant.

The Legal Rights of a Pregnant Woman

There are both federal and state laws that will protect expecting mothers from being discriminated against in the workplace. These laws do not simply safeguard an expecting mother when taking a leave from work; they will also protect the rights of the employee while at the workplace. An example of this if offering reasonable accommodations to a pregnant employee. In order to further understand what legal protections exist for expecting mothers in the workplace, it is vital to understand what indicates a wrongful termination.

Employee Discrimination Against Expecting Mothers

Discrimination in the workplace can actually occur in numerous ways. Fortunately, both at the federal and state level, proactive laws have been set in order to safeguard and ensure that a woman is not discriminated against when she is pregnant. The following are some of the most prominent laws that protect pregnant women.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, created at the federal level, was set in motion to prohibit companies who have fifteen (15) or more staff members from discriminating against the following: Pregnancies, Childbirth and/or Other related medical conditions.

Based on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an employer cannot terminate or even discipline a worker who has become pregnant. Further, the company also cannot refuse to employ a job seeker because she is pregnant. One last example is that an employer cannot rely on common misconceptions or beliefs about a pregnant woman or new mothers when making a workplace decision.

Unfortunately, many of these cases can be difficult to prove. For example, if a woman has been denied a job position at a company due to being pregnant, this may be difficult to prove considering the employer will likely base the denial on other factors. If you have been denied a workplace position based on the belief that that or the outright proof that the employer rejected your application based on your pregnancy, contact an experienced attorney who will fight for your rights. Being pregnant should never overshadow having the pronounced credentials required to qualify for a workplace position. Contact an attorney who will champion on your behalf and ensure that you are treated fairly.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, as a pregnant employee, you may be entitled to take a leave off of work for medical reasons that are related to the pregnancy and the birth of your child. Unfortunately, this federal act only applies to companies who have a minimum of fifty (50) employees. If your employer is eligible, the Family and Medical Leave Act will give pregnant employees the legal right to take up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid time off for certain medical reasons. The following is a short list of the medical reasons a person may be eligible to take time off:

  • The inability to work during the pregnancy which includes morning sickness and bed rest
  • Doctor visits throughout the pregnancy
  • Serious medical conditions which arise from the pregnancy or childbirth

It is important to understand that not everyone will be eligible to receive the protections offered by the Family and Medical Leave Act. For example, workers must have worked at the company for a minimum of one year before being eligible to take a leave under the Family Medical Leave Act.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act forces companies to provide practical accommodations to a worker who is suffering from a disability that is pregnancy related. It is worth mentioning that the normal physical limitations and other bodily changes are not considered disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. What is considered a disability, however, are those abnormal pregnancy conditions that typically take major tolls on an expecting mother. A few examples of these medical conditions could be suffering from preeclampsia or even gestational diabetes.

Legal Rights Offered by the State of California 

The State of California actually offers more legal protections than federal laws do. Many federal laws may be more restrictive when deciding who qualifies for the legal protections while California laws will be more lenient.

Anti-discrimination laws that could protect a pregnant worker can be complex and often difficult to understand. If you are unsure as to whether a law protects you, contact a qualified attorney who can help you understand your legal rights.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act, also known as FEHA, was set into place to prohibit discrimination. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act embraces various family-oriented legal protections. The following are a few notions that an employer cannot discriminate against: Childbirth, Pregnancy and/or Other related medical conditions.

While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act safeguards employees when the company has fifteen (15) or more employees, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act applies to companies who have five (5) or more workers.

The California Family Rights Act

The California Family Rights Act demands companies to allow a leave similar to the Family and Medical Leave Act. The State of California also has a pregnancy disability laws that apply to companies with five (5) or more workers. These companies are required to provide up to four (4) months of unpaid time off to workers who are not able to work due to a pregnancy, the birth of a child, and other related medical conditions.

Legal Rights as a Pregnant Worker

Employers have a duty to reasonably accommodate pregnant workers. Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, companies are required to provide pregnant workers similar accommodations they are required to provide to workers who are provisionally incapacitated by other health conditions. For instance, discrimination is considered when an employer has offered light duties to employees who have some form of health condition but not to a pregnant employee.

What to Do If You Have Been Wrongfully Terminated

If you have been wrongfully terminated from your workplace position because of your pregnancy, you may have the opportunity to file a claim against the company. Some of the most common reasons why a pregnant woman may be relinquished from her services is because of her inability to work due to medical conditions associated with the job duties, the inability to perform, asking for rightful accommodations, and even for asking for a rightful leave.

Contacting an attorney to guide you through this process can help alleviate the stress of filing for a claim. With the guidance and support of an experienced attorney, you will be able to understand if the employer has violated federal or state discrimination laws. If the employer is found to have violated such laws, you will be required to file an appropriate claim with the rightful government agency.

One of the most important elements to consider when filing for a claim is that there are time limitations to file. A professional attorney will know when it is appropriate to file a wrongful termination claim.

Attorney Justin H. King is recognized as one of the most prominent litigators in the field of wrongful termination in southern California. If you were wrongfully terminated due to being pregnant, it is important to have the support of a professional attorney who will champion on your behalf. His extensive knowledge and experience in dealing with wrongful termination claims can greatly benefit your case. Wrongful termination claims involve time sensitive matters; contact the support of a professional attorney as soon as possible.