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Pregnant women entitled to employment claims in California

Are pregnant workers in California at risk? Employment claims take on many shapes and sizes. It's hard to believe, in the year 2013, that people still lose their jobs over discrimination. However, it appears that pregnant employees, especially those who work in low-wage jobs, are often terminated or forced to take unpaid leave prior to giving birth. These actions could form the basis for employment claims of discrimination by those affected.

A recent report released from the National Women's Law Center and A Better Balance has revealed that conflict arises when an expectant mother requires additional temporary accommodations. As most people know, pregnancy requires a woman to pay special attention to her health and make physical accommodations for her condition. Things like being allowed to sit instead of stand and being allowed to take extra bathroom breaks seems to be a catalyst behind the discrimination.

The report highlighted several examples of discrimination against pregnant women. Statistically, approximately three-quarters of women working in the labor force will be pregnant on the job at some point in their lifetime. Despite this fact, a large number of employers refuse to make accommodations for a pregnant woman's temporary limitations. Thus, women are also forced to make the difficult choice between their job and their health, and the health of their unborn child. It seems that some companies are uncertain about their legal obligations when it comes to accommodating pregnancy.

Pregnant women do receive some protection under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, the protections are not equal to those afforded people with permanent disabilities. Thankfully, some states are making efforts to change the circumstances.

There are currently eight states requiring accommodations be made for pregnant workers. California is one of those eight. The state has now put legislation into motion that will mandate pregnancy disability leave, among other benefits. Pregnancy should not be detrimental to one's employment. Discrimination is illegal and people who feel they've been discriminated against for pregnancy or any other disability may be legally entitled to file employment claims.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Pregnant workers often fired or made to take unpaid leave, report says," Shan Li, June 18, 2013

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