The US and the state of California have sex discrimination laws to ensure you are not discriminated against based on sex or gender. A common way women are discriminated against is when they are pregnant. When the motivating factor for someone being denied a promotion or fired is for being pregnant, this is the definition of sex discrimination. If you believe you were wrongfully terminated based on pregnancy, contact Orange County sex discrimination lawyers at Law Office of Joseph Richards P.C. today for assistance.
Can You Be Fired While Pregnant In California?
Yes. You can be fired while pregnant in California for legitimate reasons. However, under state and federal law, when the motivation for firing you is for being pregnant, then that is probably illegal. For instance, you could be fired if you regularly leave work during the day without telling your employer while pregnant. But if you leave work for your doctor appointments set in advance and are fired, that could be actionable under the law.
The primary legal issue if you are fired while pregnant is proving it was a wrongful termination related to your pregnancy. An employer will rarely come out and say they fired you for being pregnant. This is where it is critical to work with an experienced California sex discrimination attorney. Your attorney will gather evidence by requesting documents, deposing managers and employees, and performing other discovery to make a wrongful termination case.
How California Pregnancy Discrimination Laws Are Applied
It is illegal to fire someone for being pregnant in California. It also is against the law for an employer to:
- Not hire you because of your pregnancy.
- Mandate that a pregnant worker takes leave at a specific time if the worker does not want to do so.
- Deny the pregnant worker a promotion, raise, bonus, training, or other chances for advancement.
- Refuse to make a reasonable accommodation for a pregnant worker.
- Discipline a worker for employee-related absences.
What Happens If You Are Pregnant But Cannot Do Your Job?
California companies often discriminate against pregnant women because they are concerned the worker will not be able to do her job. Or, they think she will cost them too much money for taking time off and healthcare costs. Both cases are sex discrimination and the potential basis for a lawsuit.
However, there are cases where there are concerns that a pregnant woman cannot physically perform her job because of her condition. For example, according to laws in California, employers with at least five workers must provide up to 120 days of pregnancy disability leave for a woman to recover from pregnancy.
This leave is not required to be paid. However, the company must restore the worker to her job after she takes pregnancy disability leave. Also, the woman can ask for different work that she can still do without going on leave. The company must engage in a timely and good faith interactive process to determine whether the company is able to make reasonable accommodations based on this request.
If she still has complications that prevent her from doing her job, the company should consider whether it is able to make reasonable accommodations for her to do roughly equivalent work. It also cannot fire her if these reasonable accommodations are possible.
Understanding what is or is not a ‘reasonable accommodation’ is complicated based on the situation. Employees in this situation should talk to an experienced Orange County sex discrimination attorney to determine their rights.
How To Sue If You Are Fired While Pregnant
Unlawful discrimination for any reason is illegal, but getting fired for being pregnant is especially egregious. You may feel humiliated about losing your job. You also are probably worried about losing health insurance and other benefits at the worst time. Fortunately, an Orange County sex discrimination lawyer may be able to help you file a wrongful termination lawsuit.
As noted above, the challenge in these cases is to prove employees were fired because of pregnancy. There are several methods to do so:
Offer Direct Evidence
Providing direct evidence is the most straightforward way to prove employees were discriminated against. This might be emails, memos, letters, and recorded conversations. Other direct evidence could be anecdotal. For instance, if your manager is overheard saying they wanted to keep you on the sales team but being a new mother means you will not have enough time, this is direct evidence of wrongful termination.
Offer Circumstantial Evidence
Direct evidence is often hard to come by, but circumstantial evidence may also prove helpful. Many companies and managers know about pregnancy discrimination laws and know how to avoid offering direct evidence. The evidence you need to prove your case may be more indirect:
- Have other people been pregnant in the company? Were they let go during their pregnancies? Were other pregnant women denied promotions or raises? Looking at the firm’s overall attitude towards pregnancy might reveal discriminatory behavior.
- Were you doing fantastic work until your boss found out you were pregnant? Did the firm show signs they wanted to let you go before you became pregnant?
- Most employers have procedures in writing for terminating workers. In most cases, the company will give verbal and written warnings before letting employees go. Check your employee handbook for these procedures to see if they were followed.
- Think about the given reasons for terminating you. For example, if they let you go because you did not have Python experience and they hired someone without these skills, this may be circumstantial evidence that may prove sex discrimination.
File A Claim With the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Once you suspect sex discrimination during pregnancy, you must file a claim with the EEOC. This organization safeguards protected groups from workplace discrimination. Once you file a claim with the EEOC, they usually review the case within six months.
They will tell your company you opened a case, allowing them to resolve the matter in mediation. If the matter is not resolved in six months, you may be given the right to sue. The EEOC will provide you with a ‘right to sue’ letter to open a case. It is best at that point to schedule an appointment with a free consultation from a sex discrimination attorney.
Speak To An Orange County Sex Discrimination Lawyer Now
It is illegal in California and across the US to fire someone simply for being pregnant. If you think you have been discriminated against in this way, Law Office of Joseph Richards P.C. has skilled Orange County sex discrimination lawyers who may be able to assist you. Our attorneys fight for clients’ rights in Riverside County, Orange County, and San Bernardino County. Contact our California sex discrimination lawyers now at (888) 883-6588 to schedule an appointment for a complimentary consultation.