Pregnant employees’ legal rights are vigorously protected under various state and federal laws. This can place employers in a challenging position in terms of balancing regulatory compliance against protecting the best financial interests of the business. If your company requires advice in dealing with pregnant employees, employees disabled by pregnancy, or has been served with any type of pregnancy discrimination lawsuit, the employment law lawyers of Bellatrix PC can help.
Our business attorneys are committed to providing employers with aggressive legal representation. We will thoroughly investigate the claim to see if it has merit and then develop defense strategies to defend your business. To start exploring your options in a confidential legal consultation, call Bellatrix PC at (800) 889-8376 today.
Is Your Business Compliant with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act states that under Title VII, it is considered unlawful sex discrimination to discriminate against employees based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Female employees affected by pregnancy, or pregnancy-related conditions, must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments.
A few common examples of pregnancy discrimination in employment include:
- Refusing to hire or terminating a female employee because she is pregnant, or is considering becoming pregnant.
- Terminating a female employee because she has taken pregnancy leave.
- Denying a qualified female employee a promotion, or demoting her, because she is pregnant or is considering becoming pregnant.
- Treating pregnancy in a manner differently than any other temporary illnesses or medical condition, including rights and benefits.
Title VII also makes it unlawful for employers to retaliate against employees who oppose discriminatory employment practices, or who wish to testify, file a discrimination complaint, or otherwise participate in any legal proceedings related to an alleged violation.
California Employer Regulations: the FMLA and CRFA
In addition to the considerable federal protections afforded by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, female employees are also protected on the state level by the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The provisions of the CFRA and FMLA apply to employers who have a minimum of 50 employees working within 75 miles of the office or worksite. Furthermore, the employee must have worked for the employer for a minimum of 12 consecutive or non-consecutive months, and must have also worked for no fewer than 1,250 hours during the past 12 months.
Under the provisions of the CFRA and FMLA, both male and female employees are permitted up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the purposes of adopting a child, fostering a child, or caring for a newborn baby. Upon return, female employees maintain the legal right to the same job, or a job on the same level which provides approximately equivalent benefits, pay, and terms and conditions pertaining to employment.
What to Do if Your Company is Being Sued
Charges of pregnancy-related sex discrimination come from a wide range of women holding entry-level jobs all the way up to senior executive positions. The number of these cases has increased in recent years, as more and more women wait to start a family until they have established careers.
In order to avoid or minimize the likelihood of becoming embroiled in an employee discrimination claim, employers must be highly vigilant in the way in which they deal with their female employees. Here are some simple tips to help reduce the chances of an employee taking legal action against your entity:
- Document all personnel actions in writing.
- Know the law. Be aware of whether or not the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and/or FMLA/CFRA apply to your business, and what sort of policies the relevant provisions mandate.
- Develop and implement gender-neutral personnel policies.
- Confirm that comprehensive benefits packages provide coverage for pregnancy-related issues.
- Acquire adequate liability insurance.
It is also important for employers to be aware that discrimination claims by pregnant employees may be brought under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA claims can be couched as wrongful termination claims, retaliation claims, disability discrimination claims, gender discrimination claims, and more.
Under FEHA, women who become disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions are eligible for up to four months of pregnancy disability leave. This leave can be taken as needed, and can be taken in addition to time taken off for bonding under the CFRA and/or FMLA. Furthermore, women disabled by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions are also eligible to receive accommodations from their employer, such as a less strenuous position during their disability.
If you are faced with an employee who needs accommodations for a pregnancy-related disability, you must engage in the interactive process with that employee and make your best efforts to work with them and their health care provider to find a reasonable accommodation for their situation. It is absolutely critical to properly document this process in writing.
Contact Our Employment Law Attorneys
If your business has been affected by an employee’s pregnancy, anticipated pregnancy, or a related medical condition, it is critically important to address the situation before litigation becomes necessary. If your entity needs assistance reviewing its proposed or current employee leave policies, or if an employee has already filed a lawsuit against your business, the experienced pregnancy discrimination lawyers of Bellatrix PC are here to help.
To arrange for a private case evaluation, call us today at (800) 449-8992. Our law offices are located in St. Louis, San Diego, and Riverside, CA.