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Pregnant employees often face workplace discrimination

There are few events as exciting as welcoming a new baby, but there are also few events where employees need as much time off work either. Both during a pregnancy and once the baby is born, expecting California mothers often need to take time off work to deal with pregnancy related illness. In other cases, pregnant workers need special accommodations in order to cope with the condition.

Despite the necessity of this leave, many employers still discriminate against pregnant women and refuse to give them time off or any special accommodations. According to a new report by the National Women's Law Center, many pregnant women are fired, denied accommodations and face other discrimination on a regular basis despite federal employment laws designed to protect them. Women employed in low-wage jobs are particularly susceptible to this treatment.

Pregnant workers are protected from a few different sources including the Family Medical Leave Act. However, some in Congress believe that these laws are not clear enough to truly protect pregnant workers. Therefore, they have introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act both this year and last year in hopes of creating more protections for pregnant women. Under this law, employers would have to provide accommodations for pregnancy related symptoms.

While many California workers are protected under FMLA and under California employment laws, many still face discrimination because of their pregnancy. Workers should know that they may be entitled to time off work if their pregnancy makes them sick, or for the birth of the baby. Furthermore, these employees should know that they have the right to accommodations including a place to sit or access to snacks while pregnant.

Workplace discrimination is never acceptable and workers can receive compensation for any illegal treatment they face because of their pregnancy.

Source: CBS News, "Report: Pregnant workers face routine discrimination," Stephen Smith, June 18, 2013

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