Is It Discrimination If My California Employer Keeps Asking About My Pregnancy-Related Conditions?

At Romero Law, APC, our experienced employment law attorneys know the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination against employees based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

There are typically three critical elements to establishing a pregnancy discrimination claim, which include showing that the individual was subjected to an adverse employment action, that the pregnancy or related condition was a motivating factor in the employer’s decision, and that the employer’s actions were not justified by legitimate business reasons or undue hardship.

In addition, California employers are subject to specific laws and regulations regarding inquiries about pregnancy and related medical conditions.

Laws and Regulations Regarding Inquiries About Pregnancy

California Employers are Generally Prohibited from Asking Questions About an Employee’s Pregnancy or Related Medical Conditions

Under FEHA, employers are generally prohibited from asking questions about an employee’s pregnancy or related medical conditions, except in limited circumstances. Specifically, employers cannot ask about pregnancy or related medical conditions during the hiring process unless the employer reasonably believes that the employee will need reasonable accommodation due to pregnancy or a related medical condition.

If an employer believes that an employee may need accommodations due to pregnancy or a related medical condition, they are allowed to ask questions to determine the need for accommodations and what type of accommodations may be necessary.

Employers may request medical information related to pregnancy or related medical conditions if the employee has asked for accommodations or if the employer reasonably believes that the pregnancy or related medical condition impairs the employee’s ability to perform essential job functions. However, any medical examinations or inquiries must be job-related and consistent with business necessity.

Any information obtained from an employee about their pregnancy or related medical condition must be kept confidential by the employer following privacy laws and regulations.

Is There a Legal Deadline for Notifying a California Employer About My Pregnancy?

There are no legal deadlines for notifying your employer of your pregnancy, except that you must give your employer 30 days advance notice of a request for pregnancy-related leave, accommodation, or temporary transfer if the need for leave, accommodation, or transfer is foreseeable. If an unforeseeable medical issue develops, the employee must provide notice immediately.

Can My California Employer Require Me to Take Medical Leave Before I’m Ready?

An employer in California cannot require a pregnant employee to take leave if she can perform her duties with reasonable accommodations.

In addition, California employers cannot restrict a pregnant employee’s job duties unless it is necessary to protect her health and well-being, and even then, reasonable accommodations must be considered before such restrictions are imposed.

How Can I Prove Pregnancy Discrimination in California?

To establish pregnancy discrimination, you must show that your employer treated you differently due to your pregnancy or failed to accommodate you as a pregnant woman. This can be done by providing both direct and circumstantial evidence.

  • Direct Evidence

Direct evidence explicitly shows discrimination, including statements from the employer or supervisor that demonstrate a discriminatory motive. For example, if an employer bluntly tells an employee that she is being let go because of her pregnancy, that would be direct evidence of discrimination.

  • Circumstantial Evidence

Circumstantial evidence, on the other hand, is evidence that infers discrimination through indirect means. This can include showing that the employer treated similarly situated employees differently or that the employer had a history of discrimination. For example, if an employer consistently demotes or denies promotions to pregnant employees but promotes other employees with the same skills and experience, that would be circumstantial evidence of discrimination.

Contact Our Employment Law Attorneys Today

If you believe your California employer is discriminating against you because of your pregnancy or medical-related condition, contact our experienced Los Angeles County employment law attorneys to discuss your unique circumstances today. 

Our employment law firm and bilingual staff offer services in both English and Spanish and are available to discuss your case during a free consultation by calling (626)-396-9900 or contacting us online.

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