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Answers to common questions about pregnancy and employment

Pregnant women may have many questions regarding their employment status and what their rights are during their pregnancy.

Pregnant women, or those who become pregnant, in California often worry about the effects their pregnancy will have on their employment status. However, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act states that when it comes to any aspect of employment, including job assignments, hiring, firing, promotions and pay, it is illegal to discriminate based on pregnancy.

Can a woman get fired for being or becoming pregnant?

Employers cannot discriminate against a woman if she is pregnant, was pregnant, could become pregnant or has a condition related to her pregnancy under the PDA. Employers do not have to keep a pregnant woman in her job if the conditions of employment would create a risk for other employees. However, employers cannot fire a woman from her job or put her on leave because they believe the nature or requirements of the job put the woman or her unborn baby at risk.

What happens if a woman is harassed for being pregnant?

Under the PDA, pregnancy-related harassment in the workplace is not permitted. Women who are harassed because of their pregnancy at work should let their employer know so the problem can be stopped. At that point, women should follow the reporting procedures set forth by their employer.

What if medical conditions create job difficulties?

Pregnant women may be able to acquire an accommodation from their employer, so they can do their job safely. For example, employers may offer altered work and break schedules, provide permission to stand or sit, make shift changes, eliminate unnecessary job functions or allow the employee to work from home.

What happens if a woman cannot work at all because of pregnancy?

Women who are unable to work at all because of their pregnancy should make sure that they consider all their options. For example, a woman's healthcare provider may tell her she should not work because of pregnancy when an accommodation would allow the woman to perform her job safely.

Some pregnant women cannot perform their job even with accommodations, and in cases like these, they may be able to alter the terms of their employment if their employer approves. For instance, a woman's employer may reduce her workload, remove certain responsibilities or assign her to work in a different position for the remainder of her pregnancy.

Reach out to an attorney

Pregnant women who are discriminated against at work in California may suffer from financial, emotional and mental repercussions. Those who believe they were discriminated against due to pregnancy should contact an attorney for legal assistance.

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