October 17, 2016 Category: Pregnancy discrimination
Pregnancy discrimination remains a major problem for many women in California. Recently the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a civil lawsuit in Fresno, California, against Dash Dreams Plant, Inc., an agricultural wholesaler based in Dos Palos. The EEOC claims Dash Dreams managers told female employees “not to get pregnant, that they have too many children, and the next person to get pregnant should stay home and consider herself fired.” The EEOC said there were multiple cases where female employees were not reinstated or rehired following their pregnancy.
You Have the Right to Equal Treatment
Federal law—specifically the Pregnancy Discrimination Act—prohibits an employer from treating any female employee unfavorably due to pregnancy, childbirth, or any related medical condition. This means that an employer cannot fire, or threaten to fire, an employee if she becomes pregnant, nor can an employer condition any aspect of employment based on an employee’s pregnancy status, including pay, benefits, or even promotions.
You Have the Right to Be Free From Harassment
As the EEOC’s allegations against Dash Dreams illustrate, there may also be cases where an employer, or managers acting on the employer’s behalf, create a hostile work environment for female employees. If a supervisor frequently criticizes a female employee regarding her pregnancy or potential pregnancy—i.e., saying they have “too many children”—that may constitute illegal sexual harassment. Even hostile remarks from co-workers may be considered harassment depending on the circumstances.
You Have the Right to Pregnancy-Related Leave
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires any business with 50 or more employees to give any employee with at least one year on the job up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a child. California law further requires any company with at least five employees to give employees at least 4 months of “job-protected time off” to deal with any medical conditions related to a pregnancy. This means that an employer cannot fire or refuse to reinstate a pregnant worker on leave unless it is for “legitimate business reasons” unrelated to the pregnancy or the decision to take leave. A California employer also cannot force a pregnant employee to take leave so long as she can still perform her “essential job functions.”
You Have the Right to Speak With a San Jose Workplace Harassment Lawyer
Many women may be afraid to take medically necessary pregnancy leave or speak up in favor of their rights for fear of retaliation. But the law is designed to protect women, not employers. The EEOC and the California Department of Fair Housing & Employment are both charged with investigating employee complaints of pregnancy discrimination and taking appropriate action against employers. In addition, you have the right to seek assistance from a qualified San Jose workplace discrimination lawyer and file a civil lawsuit to enforce your rights—or seek compensation for a past violation.
The Briski Law Firm has over 20 years experience fighting for the rights of employees in the Santa Clara and Silicon Valley area. We understand how to deal with an unfair employer who tries to take advantage of a pregnant employee. Contact us today at (408) 297-9100 to schedule a free consultation.