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What does pregnancy discrimination, harassment look like?

Becoming pregnant can be one of the most exciting and stressful times in a woman's life. Every week, there is something new happening and developing. While these changes are typically considered good, changes in other aspects of the soon-to-be-mother's life may not be as welcome.

For instance, the workplace can change for pregnant women, and not necessarily in a positive way. Sadly, discrimination and harassment at work are very real concerns for women all across California, but it isn't always easy to know what this misconduct looks like. Below are some common examples of unlawful treatment of pregnant women.

Discrimination can include:

  • Passing a qualified woman over for a promotion or job change because she is pregnant
  • Not hiring pregnant women because of employer or employee prejudices
  • Denying a pregnant woman benefits or pay of other workers in the same roles
  • Refusing to grant a pregnant woman leave to which she is entitled
  • Failing to give pregnant women access to the same benefits as other temporarily disabled workers
  • Refusing to give pregnant workers reasonable accommodations
  • Terminating a female employee for taking leave or for becoming pregnant

Harassment of a pregnant woman can involve:

  • Inappropriate comments on a woman's physical appearance or medical condition
  • Name-calling and shaming
  • Unwelcome sexually-based statements or questions
  • Making that woman feel threatened or intimidated in the workplace

Employees should know that there are federal and state laws in place to protect employees from harassment and discrimination in the workplace because of pregnancy.

However, the laws vary in who is covered and what is required of employers. So, while your employer may not be violating federal laws in denying leave or providing reasonable accommodations, he or she may be in violation of California employment laws.

This means that it will be crucial to talk to an attorney if you feel you have been discriminated against or harassed at work because of your pregnancy. Legal counsel can help you know and protect your rights so that you can protect yourself and your livelihood.

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