The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act declares discrimination based on pregnancy a form of sex discrimination. Companies should implement and enforce policies and practices that will provide a workplace free of discrimination for its employees. Employers should offering training on prevention of pregnancy related discrimination and provide appropriate accommodations for pregnant employees.
The following actions may be considered pregnancy discrimination:
- Making negative, offensive, or inappropriate comments toward pregnant employees
- Assigning less favorable tasks and shifts to pregnant employees
- Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with pregnancy-related disabilities and needs
- Putting pregnant employees on involuntary, unpaid leave
- Limiting medical leave
- Firing pregnant employees when their medical leave runs out without taking the return date into consideration.
For California employers, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act includes additional protections against pregnancy discrimination. California employers with five or more employees are required to provide up to four months of unpaid pregnancy disability leave. However, if an employee is disabled longer than four months, they may request an extension of leave as a reasonable accommodation. The employer is obligated to work with the pregnant employee and make reasonable accommodations.