Pregnancy discrimination is illegal in California, but it continues to occur in many workplaces. This type of discrimination is prohibited in all aspects of the employment relationship, including applications, interviews, promotions, bonuses, job assignments, terminations and discipline. Recent research has demonstrated that pregnancy discrimination can negatively affect the health of both mothers and infants.

What is pregnancy discrimination?

When a pregnant woman is treated less favorably than her peers at work, the unfavorable treatment might be pregnancy discrimination. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers from treating women unfavorably based on their pregnancy statuses, related health conditions or childbirth. Pregnant employees have a right to ask for reasonable accommodations so that they can continue performing their jobs during pregnancy. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers in the same way that they provide them to other workers who are experiencing temporarily disabling conditions. When an employer fails to do so or engages in adverse job actions based on a worker’s pregnancy status, the worker may have grounds to file a pregnancy discrimination charge.

Research finds poorer health outcomes for mothers and babies

Researchers at Baylor University conducted a survey of 252 pregnant workers. They measured perceptions of pregnancy discrimination and stress as well as health outcomes for mothers and babies. The researchers found that women who experienced pregnancy discrimination suffered worse health outcomes, and their babies also fared worse. The babies had lower birth weights and Apgar scores and were likelier to be born pre-term.

Women who are the victims of pregnancy discrimination at their jobs have legal rights. An experienced employment law attorney might review what happened and advise clients about the appropriate steps to take. Filing a pregnancy discrimination charge may allow a worker to hold the employer accountable for its wrongful actions and to collect damages.