New federal pregnancy discrimination protocol

On Behalf of | Jul 18, 2023 | Pregnancy Discrimination |

Pregnant workers and new parents may find that they are facing unjust treatment on the job related to their needs throughout the pregnancy or with their new children. While there are robust protections under California labor law protecting workers from pregnancy and family-based discrimination, workers continue to experience mistreatment, are passed over for promotion or are even terminated as expectant or new mothers. In addition to your remedies under state law, federal legislation also provides pregnant workers and new mothers and fathers with tools to hold employers accountable.

Civil rights and pregnancy

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, sex discrimination in the workplace is unlawful. This includes pregnancy discrimination, which by nature is intimately related to gender discrimination. Under this federal law, employers may not fire, transfer, demote or otherwise penalize workers based on their current, past or potential pregnancy, a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, abortion or birth control.

New federal rule in force

As of June 27, 2023, workers may now submit complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission related to an additional kind of pregnancy discrimination. Under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, adopted by Congress as part of the annual Consolidated Appropriations Act, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions, unless the accommodations pose an undue hardship.

Reasonable accommodations at work

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, pregnancy itself is not recognized as a disability. With the PFWA in place, however, employers may not use this loophole to deny reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and related medical conditions. Some of the types of accommodations that workers have previously been denied include flexible breaks, changed work schedules, altered food and drink policies or medical leave.

In California, workers have additional rights under the California Pregnancy Disability Leave law, which provides up to 4 months of disability leave with a more expansive definition of disability than the federal model. The California Family Rights Act also provides leave to new mothers and fathers. It is important for pregnant workers to understand their rights under state and federal law to have all the tools they need to protect themselves and their families.