Pregnancy Laws

The legal team at Rushovich Mehtani LLP regularly represents pregnant employees in cases involving pregnancy disability leave, discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation. The firm has handled pregnancy cases in both state and federal court, and brought claims under both state and federal law.

PREGNANCY DISABILITY LEAVE ("PDL")

Under the California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) law, which is part of the California Fair Employment and Housing ("FEHA"), pregnant employees are entitled to take up to 4 months of leave time to treat one or more disabling conditions related to pregnancy. Such conditions include time off needed for required bed rest or pregnancy complications, morning sickness, nausea, doctors appointments, and other conditions and contingencies related to pregnancy.

Sometimes an employer does not allow a pregnant employee to take PDL leave time notwithstanding the legal requirement to do so, which can generate a claim for violation of California PDL law. If you believe you have been prevented from taking time off for pregnancy related medical conditions, you should call our firm and consult our team to determine whether you have a legal case against your employer.

PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION

To bring a pregnancy discrimination claim under California law, an employee must basically show that (i) the employee suffered an “adverse employment action” by his or her employer; (ii) that a “substantial motivating factor” for such action was the employee’s pregnancy; and (iii) that the employee was harmed by the employer’s conduct.

As explained by the Judicial Council of California Jury Instructions, “’Adverse employment actions’ are not limited to ultimate actions such as termination or demotion. There is an adverse employment action if [name of defendant] has taken an action or engaged in a course or pattern of conduct that, taken as a whole, materially and adversely affected the terms, conditions, or privileges of [name of plaintiff]’s employment. An adverse employment action includes conduct that is reasonably likely to impair a reasonable employee’s job performance or prospects for advancement or promotion. However, minor or trivial actions or conduct that is not reasonably likely to do more than anger or upset an employee cannot constitute an adverse employment action.”

A “substantial motivating reason” is a reason that actually contributed to the applicable adverse employment action. While it must be more than a remote or trivial reason, it need not be the only reason motivating the applicable adverse employment action.

To bring a pregnancy discrimination under Federal Law, the standards are similar but there are some differences. You should consult an employment attorney to discuss the differences and determine whether bringing state and/or federal age discrimination claims makes sense in your particular situation.

PREGNANCY HARASSMENT

Pregnancy harassment claims under California law require a showing that (i) the employee suffered either “severe” or “pervasive” mistreatment by another employee or group of employees; (ii) that a “substantial motivating reason” for the mistreatment is due to the employee’s pregnancy; and (iii) that the employee was harmed by the employer’s conduct.

Importantly, there has to be a “nexus” or connection between the mistreatment and the employee’s pregnancy. In other words, it is not enough to merely show that you were pregnant and were mistreated; instead, you need to show that a “substantial motivating reason” for the mistreatment was your pregnancy.

Rushovich Mehtani LLP attorneys regularly litigate pregnancy harassment cases. What we typically look for is direct or circumstantial evidence of pregnancy harassment. For example, inappropriate or mean comments about an employee’s pregnancy by a supervisor repeatedly on a daily basis over a period of time could be deemed harassment, depending on all of the facts and circumstances.

Harassment claims can often be highly particularized and you should consult with an attorney to determine whether you indeed have a harassment claim. Sometimes the conduct may be inappropriate or unprofessional but does not rise to the level of legal harassment. Other times the situation is quite clear, and other times it is gray. The attorneys at our Firm can review the specific facts of your situation and analyze whether they believe you have a harassment case.

PREGNANCY RETALIATION

To bring a case for pregnancy retaliation under California law, an employee must basically show that (i) the employee suffered an “adverse employment action” by his or her employer; (ii) that a “substantial motivating reason” for such adverse employment action was because the employee engaged in protected activity by protesting or refusing to participate in pregnancy discrimination or other illegal conduct related to employees’ pregnancy(-ies); and (iii) that the employee was harmed by the employer’s conduct.

Importantly, people often claim that they are being retaliated against but cannot evidence an actual “adverse employment action”. But without an adverse employment action, the employee cannot prove a case of retaliation.

You should contact Rushovich Mehtani LLP at 323-433-9094 or toll-free at 888-433-9094 or send us a message if you feel you have suffered discrimination, harassment or retaliation based on pregnancy.