Bringing new life into this world is an arduous task, one typically motivated from a deep place of love. New mothers are typically very excited about the children joining their families and want to offer their children the best life possible. Many women keep working, in part, to provide for their children. Unfortunately, although both federal and California state laws protect the rights of pregnant women and those who have just had babies, employers do still discriminate against and mistreat pregnant workers and new mothers under a host of different circumstances.
Pregnancy discrimination is one of the most common types of sex discrimination in the modern workplace. Those who understand their rights under the law will have an easier time asserting them. How does California protect pregnant women from workplace discrimination?
By requiring pregnancy accommodations
California has a more expansive rule for disability and pregnancy accommodations than the existing Federal rules. The requirement to provide pregnancy accommodations extends to businesses with far fewer employees in California than throughout much of the rest of the country. The accommodations that pregnant workers may require include permission to work from home, reduced lifting requirements and the option of sitting or resting during their shifts. Most employers in California need to work with pregnant women instead of trying to find a way to push them out of their jobs because of their temporary medical limitations.
By requiring lactation accommodations
For many women who have just given birth, their protections effectively end after they return to work following their postpartum medical leave. However, those that intend to exclusively breastfeed their child have additional protections when they return to work. Women in California have the right to request a clean and private space that is not a bathroom in which to pump milk or nurse with their child if there is on-site daycare or their childcare provider can bring their infant to the workplace frequently to nurse, in some scenarios.
Unfortunately, some employers are openly hostile to those who request basic accommodations during and after pregnancy. Others are more subtle about their discrimination but treat workers differently, refuse to accommodate them or slowly build the case to fire them. Learning more about the rules in California that protect pregnant and recently-pregnant employees may help women if they experience misconduct on the part of their employer during pregnancy or in the wake of it.