As residents of Los Angeles may know, federal law prohibits discrimination against any worker by his or her employer if he or she is a member of a protected class. These classes include race, religion and gender, among many others. These protections may be governed further with regards to specific types of discrimination. For example, female employees that are pregnant are protected from discrimination by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
The provisions of the Act apply to all employers with fifteen or more employees, as well as government and employment agencies. Essentially, any unfavorable treatment applied to a pregnant woman due to her condition is prohibited by the Act. Employee benefit plans must be applied the same for all employees, and pregnancy and related conditions must be covered in the same way as other medical conditions. Additionally, pregnancy or childbirth must be treated as a temporary disability, similar to other such conditions.
Employers are also not allowed to engage in various activities related to hiring, work status and benefits. Examples of such discriminatory practices include asking illegal interview questions, refusing to hire or promote a pregnant employee, firing an employee for getting pregnant or requiring a pregnant employee to give notice of her condition unless there is a business purpose. Employers must also hold open a job for pregnancy leave, allow the employee to accrue benefits while on leave and continue to pay the employee's health benefits as they do for other conditions.
Pregnant employees should be aware of their rights in the workplace, and enforce these rights to prevent discrimination based on their condition. An employment law attorney can assist pregnant employees with such a claim to ensure that they receive fair treatment from their employer.
Source: FindLaw, "Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace," accessed on Aug. 16, 2015