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Pregnant employees have rights under the law

Although San Diego residents might think that employers would know that they could get in to a lot of trouble for discriminating against a woman because she is expecting or has recently had a child, pregnancy discrimination has been a persistent problem both in California and in other parts of the country.

The problem was pervasive enough for the federal government to pass a separate law specifically prohibiting the practice of pregnancy discrimination. Under this law, an employer cannot refuse to hire, fire or otherwise take an adverse action against a woman simply because she is pregnant or has recently given birth to a child. The law also prohibits discrimination against a woman who suffers a pregnancy-related medical complication.

This does not mean that an employer has to offer special favors to a pregnant woman, but they cannot take actions against her, even if it is for purely financial reasons like pregnancy being too costly to the employer. If the woman needs time off or some special accommodations at work that would be offered to anyone else with a short-term "disability," then the woman should get those without having to jump through any special "hoops."

Employees in California should also be aware that federal law grants them unpaid leave in order to have a child and spend some time bonding with that child.

While the law is clear that pregnant women cannot be discriminated against, many employers may try a variety of tricks to get around these provisions. Women who suspect they have been targeted in any way because of the fact they are expecting or recently had a child should consider the possibility of filing a workplace discrimination claim.