Laws Protecting Pregnant California Employees from Workplace Discrimination


In California, employment discrimination based on pregnancy is against the law. In legal sense, pregnancy discrimination happens when an employer bases employment decisions on a worker’s pregnancy situation. Under Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), such employment bias practices are illegal.


Pregnancy Discrimination VS Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Pursuant to PDA, workplace discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or other related medical conditions is unlawful. Moreover, California employees with 15 or more are covered by this Act. PDA protects female employees regardless if they are married or not. The following are other provisions set by the PDA:


  • Covered employers are not allowed to discriminate against applicants because they are pregnant
  • Employers are required to provide accommodation to their pregnant employees by allowing them to take leaves


Rights of Pregnant Employees under Family and Medical Leave Act

Under FMLA, pregnant employees have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leaves. For an employee to be eligible for FMLA benefits her employer should have 50 or more workers, and she should have worked for at least 1,250 hours during a year. Pursuant to FMLA, both mother and father are entitled to FMLA leaves.


Covered employers are not allowed to terminate a pregnant employee based on her usage of her FMLA leaves.


Pregnancy Discrimination is against California FEHA

California pregnant employees have the right to be free from workplace discrimination as per provisions set by FEHA. In accordance with FEHA, California-based employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees based on their pregnancy conditions. Non-complying employers may face legal complaints by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).


The following are the specific rights of pregnant employees under FEHA:


  • Right to have guaranteed leaves if disabled due to pregnancy
  • Right to receive reasonable accommodation from employer
  • Right to guaranteed leaves for birth or adoption of a child


Legal Actions against Discriminating Employers

If you believe that have experienced pregnancy discrimination, you have the right to file a formal complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the DFEH. Additionally, you may hire an employment discrimination lawyer to properly assess your concern.


Employers who will be found guilty of pregnancy discrimination, they may be required to provide payments to affected employees. Common compensations may include payments for lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional damages.