Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy Discrimination

Starting a family is a significant event. It is physically taxing on the mother and necessitates a lot of time away from work. Due to this, some predatory employers undervalue pregnant women in their organizations and engage in discriminatory behavior. A woman’s right to fair treatment surrounding pregnancy and childbirth is protected under the law – and yet that does not stop companies from discriminating against female employees who fall pregnant.

Know Your Rights

If you are a woman in the workforce who plans on starting a family, it is vital that you understand your rights. In 1978, an amendment was added to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 specifying that discrimination on the basis of sex extended to pregnancy. The law states that a pregnant woman should not be treated differently than any other employee with a similar ability or inability to work. This means that if a woman is precluded from doing her job at full capacity due to her pregnancy, she should be treated the same as any other employee with a temporary disability. If pysical conditions related to the pregnancy like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia arise, or if physical needs dictate, the woman in question may need reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or the Fair Employment and Housting Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and California Family Rights Act all permit unpaid time away from work for eligible employees. This means that the employer may not replace the employee while she is out on leave. Lastly, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the California Labor Code protect a nursing mother’s right to express milk in the workplace. 


Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination can take many forms. Below are several ways we have seen it manifest in the working world. If any of these situations sound familiar to you, reach out to the Benowitz Law Corporation legal team today for representation.


  • A pregnant woman is terminated when her employer realizes that she will need time away from work. He cites a fast-paced and high-pressure working environment that cannot support a leave of absence. 
  • A pregnant woman is asked to take herself out of the running for a promotion since her employer suspects she won’t be able to balance a child with new responsibilities.
  • A pregnant woman returns to work only to discover that someone else is in her position. Her employer shuffles her to a new position.