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Understanding the rights of pregnant workers

Pregnant women in California and elsewhere are protected by law from most types of employment discrimination. For instance, it is illegal to refuse to hire someone because of a pregnancy. It is also illegal for an employer to fire a worker after becoming pregnant. Furthermore, pregnant employees typically have the right to take time off to seek prenatal care without putting their jobs in jeopardy.

A pregnant worker would likely be covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act that allows employees to take time to care for an unborn child. It also allows individuals to take time off to handle their own health issues. However, FMLA only applies to companies with 50 or more employees. Therefore, those who work for a smaller company would likely be covered under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The PDA basically says that pregnant women must be treated like anyone else in the workplace.

Finally, a complication during a pregnancy may be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If a person falls under that act, employers must make reasonable accommodations for that worker. A pregnant worker may also fall under the protection of the ADA if a doctor puts that person on bedrest. Those who have further questions about their rights during a pregnancy are advised to talk to their human resources or union representative.

A person who is terminated or discriminated against for taking leave because of a pregnancy or other health issue may be able to pursue legal action. An employer may be liable for back pay plus other financial relief available. In some cases, people may be entitled to reinstatement to their former job. Legal counsel may review the case and may provide assistance to workers who have been harmed by this type of discrimination.

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