Pregnancy Discrimination: What You Should Know

Pregnancy is a special and transformative time in your life, filled with excitement and anticipation. However, if you’ve been treated unfairly at work because you’re pregnant, it’s essential to know your rights and how to protect them. At our firm, we’re dedicated to ensuring that you understand the laws that shield you from discrimination and are equipped to take action if necessary.

Understanding Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer treats a worker unfavorably due to pregnancy, childbirth, or any medical condition related to pregnancy. It’s not just about obvious ill-treatment; subtle actions, such as excluding a pregnant employee from vital meetings or opportunities, also qualify as discrimination. Understanding the breadth of what constitutes pregnancy discrimination is essential in identifying and addressing it.

California’s Pregnancy Discrimination Laws

The state of California actively protects pregnant employees through various laws. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits employers from taking adverse actions related to hiring, promotion, termination, or other employment terms due to pregnancy. Additional laws like the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) provide further protection, ensuring rights to leave and accommodation.

Recognizing Signs of Pregnancy Discrimination

Identifying signs of pregnancy discrimination can be challenging. These signs might include sudden changes in work assignments, exclusion from key projects, derogatory comments about your pregnancy, or other noticeable shifts in how you’re treated after announcing your pregnancy. In some cases, workplace retaliation may occur if an employer punishes you for asserting your rights, such as filing a complaint.

Accommodations and Rights for Pregnant Employees

California law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees. These accommodations might include modifications to work duties, adjustments to work hours, or providing special equipment. Employers must engage with the employee to determine suitable accommodations and cannot simply refuse without proper justification.

What to Do if You Suspect Discrimination

If you feel you’re experiencing discrimination, it’s essential to act quickly. Start by documenting incidents, reporting your concerns to HR, and seeking legal advice if necessary. Ensuring that your actions are well-documented helps in building a strong case against any form of workplace retaliation or discrimination.

How to File a Complaint in California

If you believe you have been a victim of pregnancy discrimination in California, taking legal action is a key step to assert your rights. Here’s how you can file a complaint:

Where to File: In California, complaints regarding pregnancy discrimination should be filed with the Civil Rights Department. This department is responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws and can investigate your complaint.

Prepare Your Complaint: Gather all relevant evidence, such as documents, emails, or any other written communication that supports your claim. Include details of incidents, dates, witnesses, and any actions taken by your employer.

File the Complaint: You can file your complaint online through the Civil Rights Department’s website or by visiting one of their field offices. Alternatively, you can also mail a physical copy of the complaint to the appropriate office.

Understand the Statute of Limitations: It’s crucial to know that in California, you have one year from the date of the discriminatory act to file a complaint with the Civil Rights Department. Failing to file within this time frame can result in losing the right to pursue your claim.

Consider Legal Assistance: Filing a complaint can be a complex process, and having legal assistance can be valuable. At Moore Ruddell LLP, we can help you navigate the filing process, ensuring that you comply with all the necessary requirements and meet the deadlines.

Follow Up on Your Complaint: Once you have filed your complaint, the Civil Rights Department will investigate. You may be required to participate in interviews or provide additional information. Cooperation with the investigation is essential for a successful resolution.

Potential Consequences for Employers

Employers found guilty of pregnancy discrimination may face serious consequences, ranging from fines to mandatory anti-discrimination training. For victims, remedies might include compensation for lost wages, emotional distress, and legal costs, or even reinstatement in the case of wrongful termination.

Importance of Legal Representation

Legal representation is vital in navigating the complexities of a discrimination case. We at Moore Ruddell LLP can provide expertise in understanding your unique situation, crafting a robust legal strategy, and vigorously pursuing your rights.

Prevention and Education

Educating employees and management about pregnancy discrimination and fostering a respectful workplace culture is vital for prevention. Companies can offer training sessions, clear policies, and open communication channels to ensure that everyone understands their rights and responsibilities.


No one should suffer from pregnancy discrimination. By understanding your rights, recognizing the signs, and taking appropriate steps, you can protect yourself. We’re here to support and guide you every step of the way, committed to ensuring you are treated fairly and with the respect you deserve. If you have concerns or need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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