Pregnancy discrimination is real

Frank S. Clowney III

Often, pregnant employees believe that they do not have discrimination protections. However, that could not be further from the truth, and in this post, we will explore just some of those protections. Broadly, though, if an employer takes any negative employment action (firing, demotion, etc.) against a pregnant employee based on that pregnancy, birth or any pregnancy-related medical condition, then they have likely illegally discriminated against that San Diego, California, employee.

Pregnancy leave cannot be treated differently

If a pregnant employee is covered by a sick leave policy, they cannot fire a pregnant employee for utilizing that leave policy for the pregnancy. If that leave policy allows the choice of accrued and sick leave, they cannot change that for pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical conditions. In other words, they cannot force the exhaustion of sick leave before the use of accrued leave. Pregnancy-related leave also cannot be shorter than what is allowed for other times of medical or disability leave. Finally, leave without pay policies for pregnancy must be at least as equal as other types of leave without pay.

Maintaining the position during pregnancy leave

For the Family and Medical Leave Act, the employer must maintain the pregnant employee’s job, or some equivalent position with the same terms and conditions, pay and benefits. If the employee is not using FMLA, the employer must maintain that job for the same amount of time as their policy for any other type of sick or disability leave.

Care and bonding leave

For covered employers, FMLA requires 12 weeks of leave, which includes medical recovery, care and bonding. And, this is for the pregnant employee themselves and their spouse (co-parent). Even if FMLA is not used, the employer’s leave policy cannot differentiate between the leave allowed for the pregnant employee and their spouse (co-parent). If they allow time for care and bonding for the pregnant employee, they must also provide that additional time to the San Diego County pregnant employee’s spouse (co-parent).